Album Review: Bandit – “Of Life”

This record is the first I’ve heard from Bandit. They were described to me as a mix between Eisley, Pedro the Lion and Daughters, all bands I’ve respected and liked selective songs from but never been really that into. However, this record really surprised me, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it landed in my top 10 list at the end of this year.

The first thing I noticed here was that it was much heavier than those “similar artists” aforementioned. Where the RIYL list I was given listed incredibly softer artists, I was drawing more comparisons to bands like Basement, Brand New, and From Indian Lakes. I will admit that vocalist/guitarist Angela Plake has a very similar voice to Sherri DuPree (of Eisley), but the instrumental aspects as well as the overall vibe of the record was quite different. The guitar tones stuck out to me because although they were not greatly distorted, they did sound heavy due to the dark and crunchy sound they embodied.

The record really comes in with an unexpected bang. While “The Drive Home” starts with a quieter, softer feel, it quickly builds up, bringing out the emotion created earlier in the song to a more extreme and antsy level. That track leads directly into “Brain,” easily one of the best songs on the album. A beautiful chord progression that begs your feelings back and forth between happy and stressed, it’s a masterpiece of a tune. “Pushing” reminds me more of Basement (and a bit of Tiger’s Jaw), the perfect third song for the record. Thus, upon listening, I started to realize that this record is one of those records in which all the songs are meant to compliment each other, and they basically accomplish that.

Despite the amazing sound of this record, it ends pretty anti-climatically. It’s like a movie that starts out great, slows down to build suspense for the closing scene, but then ends without that closure. To summarize, the end of the album never gets quite as exciting as it is when you start listening to it. I realize things like recording budgets and time and release dates may have come into play… but from purely a listener’s perspective, and knowing almost nothing about the band, it just seemed to need more songs. On a smaller middle-of-the-road note, I felt that the cover of “Where is My Mind” by the Pixies didn’t fit in the overall collection of songs, despite the fact that it’s practically flawless. If I had heard this song separate from this, I would have found myself very interested in learning more about the band. So it’s good (practically perfect), I just personally think the album would have served to have an original track with a similar feel there.

I’m going to give this record a ⅘ stars. If it wasn’t for it being cut short, it would have won a 5/5, but there just seems to be more that’s needed to complete this release. Regardless, Bandit is an incredible band and should be on your radar this year – don’t sleep on this release.

4/5 Stars

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