Warm Brains is the solo project of Rory Atwell, who has inhabited the throbbing core of the noisy punkish indie scene for the last few years, through production and engineering work for all the main names. No surprise then that Big Wow sounds exactly as it should: melodic but sharp, with plenty of forward momentum. On Milk Milk Lemonade.
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I want to trust Rory Atwell, but I just don’t know. The dude’s placed himself behind the decks for albums by self-professed Lad Rock bands (remember the Vaccines? Like… oh man), once-hyped folk like Palma Violets and even played in the Test Icicles. Now, he’s breaking out with his own solo record, a kinda capitalist pop-punk sounding thing with the slick riffs and very good production work. If you remember that indie rock band the Hours, who sounded super-edgy but were basically a pop machine disguising their piano rock, then this might sound familiar -- a record pertaining to be something darker while ultimately being no frills, nor thrills.
Atwell’s brand of melodic and oft-aggressive guitar rock is punctuated by soft, pattering production that marked the latest New Order record; it’s almost too clean, and sometimes too noticeable -- each verse/chorus follow-through feels drastically over-polished. On “Another Queue at the Cornstair”, Atwell reverts to an Albarn vocal snarl, but shrouds it in a deliberate haze, dividing the song between two distinct ideas. On certain songs, he synthesises things pretty fucking well: “Happy Accidents” has the rhythmic urgency and rapid-fire storytelling of Porcupine Tree circa ‘Stupid Dream’; it’s pop music that can’t sit still, that has to be doing something, from the quasi-thrashing drums to the sighing harmonies. When Atwell synergises both sides of his sound as well as this, ‘Big Wow’ will provide thee with an earworm.
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