With all apologies due to Luther, I know it’s probably poor journalistic form to start out a review of one band by talking about a separate band entirely, but what can I say…I’m a poor journalist.
I recently went back and listened to The Gaslight Anthem’s “Sink or Swim.” I’m a huge fan of “The ’59 Sound” and “American Slang,” but for whatever reason, I had never really given “Sink or Swim” much of a chance and, frankly, I hadn’t listened to it at all in a few years. Putting it on after an extended break reveals a great album, but more than anything it reveals a sign of things to come…a band that had all of the elements and was THIS close to putting them all together. Some of the ideas needed to be expanded, some contracted, some reworked altogether.
“Siblings & Sevens” is Luther’s “Sink or Swim.” Not in that the band sounds like Gaslight Anthem, because they certainly don’t. The seven-song “Siblings and Sevens” EP (their first on Black Numbers) from this Philadelphia band is similar in many ways. Allow me to explain track-by-track…
The album-opening title track serves as an acoustic introduction to the remainder of the EP, and is the only acoustic track on the EP. On the whole, the song feels too short, and at 2:07, it is well over a minute shorter than every other song on the album. While it’s an okay song, it does sound a bit unfinished, and would have been well-served to extend it more and support it with some strummed chords behind the arpegiated, finger-pick-style main melody (which bears a striking resemblance to the lead riff in “When September Ends”). Also, it’s weird to have the requisite acoustic track come first on an album; not a bad thing, just different.
“This Is Like Fight Club” kicks the album into high gear with a catchy, post-pop-punk main riff that becomes a little more post-hardcore in the bridge chorus sections. A very solid song from start to finish. “Two Anglers” continues the post-hardcore theme. A little more mid-tempo than the previous track, but still has a great, swirling energy to it. At a running time of more than five minutes, “The Suitor” is the album’s longest track. It’s another mid-tempo sort of post-hardcore track, but the hook isn’t as catchy or emphatic and there is a fairly lengthy droning mid-section, leaving the feeling that the song didn’t quite build to the climax that the guys were shooting for.
“There’s Always Money…” is another catchy, more up-tempo post-hardcore song with a great energy to it, and centers around a main riff that is as simple as it is infectious. “Aztec Tomb” is a little bit more of a production, taking its sweet time to build to a steady crescendo. It has a little bit more of a straight-up three-chord rock feel to it than a lot of the album. The central line “and we wait around for our names to get called out loud” is intoxicatingly catchy, and is repeated at least a dozen times throughout the song without ever getting annoying; by no means an easy task. That said, there’s a bridge (post-chorus) section that sounds a little sloppy.
“The Communion” closes the EP on a very strong note, and really highlights all of the potential that Luther bring to the table: great riff, great harmonies, great rock sound, great introspective lyrics (“what if everything we ever needed was inside?”). Perhaps a tad long, it’s nonetheless a no-frills song with a great energy to it, much like “This Is Like Fight Club,’ it’s a big shiny ray of hope that Luther will be making quality music for a long time.
“Siblings and Sevens” has an almost live sound to it; the timing is off every-so-slightly in a few places, a few fills are close-but-not-quite. All of this leads to the assumption that Luther put on a solid live show that they haven’t quite refined for the studio yet. That’s certainly not a bad thing for a younger band; remember that when Luther’s next effort turns into their “’59 Sound.”