Welsh rockers Falls have been causing a bit of a buzz in the British scene as of late, with a relentless touring ethic and busy recording schedule have seen them garner mainstream attention as well as admirers in the underground music scene. They close out 2016 with Cream, their second EP of the year that sees them spread their creative wings somewhat.
I suppose the most admirable thing about Falls is that they pay no attention to genre boundaries or conventional song writing structures. This attitude is typified by the vocals, which alternates styles at will, from a grittier, hard rock styled approach to poppy, high falsetto like notes, with quirky little ditties and off kilter hardcore shouts occasionally thrown into the mix as well. Although there’s a sense of control most of the time, it always feels like things are simmering on the edge; a vocal fireball bubbling under the surface, ready to burst forth at a moment’s notice. This relative unpredictability, in combination with some well written vocal hooks, make the music more engaging. Sadly, it’s not enough to make the songs truly invigorating, as the instrumental side of the band aren’t quite up to the standard that the vocal approach sets.
Ironically enough, the thing that makes the vocals such an asset on this recording is the biggest flaw as far as the music is concerned. The band seem eager to free themselves of predictable formulas, but unfortunately lack the musical components to back up this maverick mindset. Opener “Berries!” is the only track that avoids this pitfall, with plenty of dynamics and tempo changes to accompany a solid set of groovy riffs. “Daytime N U” has a nice, poppy shuffle to the verse and a decent hook in the chorus, but feels a little too underdeveloped overall. “Live Delicious” has an abrasive hardcore/punk feel, with plenty of aggression but little in the way of memorability, resulting in a throwaway sub three minute excursion. Closer “Liberator” also lacks direction, and in spite of some clever subtleties in Steff Jones’ drumming, the song feels aimless, with an ill fitting, cumbersome breakdown passage haphazardly seeing out the final throes of the EP’s 13 minute run time.
Although I commend the band for taking risks with Cream, there just isn’t enough of interest going on for the approach to pay off. A lot of the riffs aren’t strong enough to carry the songs, and only opener “Berries!” gathers any sort of momentum that lasts through its duration. Falls have the confidence needed to make their mark, but I feel they’d be better off rooting themselves in safer compositional territory before venturing off into more experimental waters. A bit of a misfire, but I’ve no doubt that they’ve the temerity to shake off a minor lapse as they work their way up the ladder.
Rating: 5/10 – “an ambitious misfire”