Sound — 7
From "Bury My Bones" opening sentiments about being "sick of singing about hate" to "Beach Of Diamonds" willingness to "dive in and throw caution to the wind", you haven't got to look too far beyond Pure Love's lyrics to see how intent they are on distancing themselves from they're past musical ties. The outfit, consisting of former Gallows vocalist Frank Carter and Hope Conspiracy guitarist Jim Carroll, are leaving behind acts very much embedded in hardcore punk, not only through sound but through following as well. The departure of Carter as vocalist in Gallows was certainly met with levels of frustration and disappointment in the UK scene, and the sound of his new band has to some fans compounded those emotions. The blueprint to "Anthems" is very straightforward, the band shifting away from hardcore completely to a sound still very much of band-in-a-room dynamic but emulating the guitar sounds of classic rock and punk rock directly. In a time where garage-rock of this nature is in short supply and unfashionable it's a brave direction to take, but the key here is Carter's vocals which with raw youthfulness and heartfelt emotion throughout are a refreshing foreground to the largely understated rhythm and lead tracks laid down by Carroll. It would be incredibly bold to call a record "Anthems" and not have it carry huge melodies, and for the most part here the band are true of their title and deliver. After the slightly subdued opening track "She", the record quickly catches fire with "Bury My Bones" and "The Hits", the former seeking pleasure in it's absolute simplicity, from Darkness-esque riffing through to it's boisterous mission-statement lyrical intentions, it's a song that very much defines the albums title. The latter delivers the records most naturally "pop" chorus, lifted with effective lead guitar work throughout and woah-oh backing vocals trading off against chugging chords. Other highlights come in the shape of singles "Beach Of Diamonds" and "Handsome Devils Club", both quickening the pace and keeping the melodies infectious, and punkier one-two "Scared To Death" and "Riot Song" towards the end of the record stand back to back as tribute to the early days of punk and more modern, folk-inspired punk-rock respectively. When the band measure the pace more steadily the consistancy wheres off a little bit, the title track, "Burning Love" and ballad-by-numbers "Heavy Kind Of Chain" are slow burning and brooding in pace and tone, giving off an atmospheric sound which proves slightly patience testing overall, the melodies and varation not quite getting out of second gear.
Lyrics — 8
I mention that Frank Carter's vocal performance is a key part of the quality to this record, his lyrics also play a big part as well. Immediate, blunt and perhaps overly-obvious, your in awe of the simplicity and are engaged throughout. Of the stand-out moments, "Bury My Bones" shouts the bands intentions and new direction perfectly, "Riot Song" captures the very real reality of the current state-of-things and perhaps most intriguingly "Handsome Devils Club" and "Burning Love" both plunge to the depths of intimacy, weighing up the chasing and passion of love respectively.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall "Anthems" does exactly what it says on the tin, but when the band do detract from that it achieves mixed results, perhaps a consolidation of the three or four slower moments here could have got the record closer to perfection. Winning over fans who may have given up on the guys because of their past and garage rock in general may be tricky, but the sound and emphasis of Carter's vocal and lyrical display should certainly get them intrigued, and for fans of the style already, this should prove to be a refreshing addition.