Both Great Apes and Know Your Saints hail from the California bay area and while their sound is evocative of everything that comes with the association, neither band is a straight-ahead representation of the sound that comes with the scene. Instead, they both mix hearty batches of indie rock into their melodic, heartfelt punk style resulting in a sharp, loud, and musical split.
Great Apes offer up the songs “The Quack and the Leper” and “Class(war) Room.” Both songs are a great showcase for Great Ape’s intelligent, yet confrontational songwriting. “The Quack and the Leper” opens with a rousing guitar melody that feels as if it was taken from a Tragedy album, aiding the song’s dark atmosphere but also serving as a more interesting way to begin what is basically a melodic punk song. “Class(war) Room” is filled with lyrical gems that drip venom with their delivery (“Equal opportunity will remain the talk of fools, until every kid in the ghetto has a five star school”) and appropriately the song sounds more gruff, but never without losing any of it’s melodic sensibilities. Great Apes match their lyrical prowess with their instrumentation choices, the songs never rely solely on chugging rhythms and often times incorporate subtle but sprawling guitar leads that seek to harmonize rather than lead.
The Know Your Saints side of the split isn’t as strong as the Great Apes offering, but is enjoyable and really only pales because of the quality offering it has to compete against. Know Your Saints are decidedly more jangly than Great Apes and take a greater influence from pop punk. “Skyscrapers, Smokesignals” takes it’s vocal melody two syllables at a time, sounding something like a lost Blink-182 song. Thankfully, it’s more musically developed and dynamic than the usual pop punk fair, but does nothing to grab the listener. Despite its overall catchiness, “Skyscrapers, Smokesignals” proves to be a fairly forgettable ordeal. “Deconstruction” is a more aggressive song that shows Know You Saints to be perfectly capable of a good old fashioned rager– crafting a fast, intense song packed with emotion and musicality. “Deconstruction” is Know Your Saints a their best.
Great Apes and Know Your Saints both deliver the goods, but from even a cursory listen it’s clear that Great Apes is the standout on this release. That isn’t to say Know Your Saints are a weak band, because they’re not. Everything on this split is competent; the melodies are memorable, the instrumentation is engaging– but competency alone doesn’t make for transcendence. Both bands are shooting for the stars on this split, but while Great Apes float alone in the stratosphere Know Your Saints just scrape the clouds, both are impressive, but one is definitely more so.