'On The Spines Of Old Cathedrals' is a thoroughly unremarkable single from an otherwise usually enjoyable band. Taken from their third album, 2012's Canines, it contains none of the frenetic, nervous energy that usually typifies them, sounding cluttered and, at times, lost where they are normally so direct.
Multi-layered vocals fall over each other and over the busy drum fills that punctuate the song, whilst the driving bassline that carries it along is very standard fare for the punchy indiepop they create. It's the kind of prominent bassline that you'll have heard countless times used by all from The Futureheads and Maximo Park to the thousands of soundalikes they've shared stages with at Indietracks. For four minutes, there are a lot of ideas, and its 'throwing it all against the wall' nature is reminiscent of Mew's benchmark 'Am I Wry? No', but whilst every idea that Mew threw was a eureka moment, most of the ones here are a genre retrace.
The B-Side 'Sleeprunning' is an improvement, a curious slowbuilder that paints the vocal melody of New Found Glory's 'My Friends Over You' on top of the 'Breazy' theme from Final Fantasy 8. It begins with washes of strings and rolling tom hits and ends in a cacophony that will bring to mind Life Without Buildings' more abrasive moments. Still, it is not enough to warrant the £5 asking price for this ltd edition 7 inch release.
Continue reading: Shrag - On The Spines Of Old Cathedrals Single Review