Still, probably one of the most influential things internet interconnectivity has brought forth in droves over the years, is access to music outside one’s own borders. Countless music videos, live streamed concerts and even regionally specific apps (e.g. Anghami, highlighting artists of the Middle East) have made the music of the world feel far less segmented and unknown. This closeness is not just amazing for fans and consumers but for artists as well; with established acts in one country taking on established acts from another, or, even working with rising groups and then seeing the latter skyrocket in recognition — sometimes outside their initial geo-demographic!
A perfect example of the above scenario is what you’ll get when you start digging into the history and music of Brighton based band, Pint Size Hero. The UK rockers are ready to drop their sophomore album, “Like a Hurricane” (out everywhere 8 September, available for pre-order now) and the name is only so ideal because rather than fall into the sophomore slump, this record has only served to show a growth in band popularity, production and musical power that rocks very much like a storm.
Since the band’s debut release, “Get Your Kicks” dropped in 2011, Pint Size Hero has simply fallen into a stride that’s provided smooth, natural evolution for their sound – both in their own work and in the eyes of their musical peers. (Milestones like being asked to tour with US-based Southern blues rockers, Rival Sons, for example, feel like a pre-destined concert match made in heaven.)
A group that sits quite nicely in the rock vein, without an unnecessary amount of sub-genre bleed over, it’s no surprise that Pint Size Hero feel like a breath of sonically confident fresh air, amidst occasionally misguided cross-genre panning and artist aspiration for flexibility. Not that fusion of style and production techniques is a bad thing but, as the saying goes, “Sometimes less is more.” That said, the sound of Pint Size Hero is nothing lesser and certainly nothing pint sized. Hurricane is a solidly built collection of tracks that wastes no time giving listeners an aggressive downbeat to grab a hold of and air drum or guitar along to — not letting go for the majority of the 10 track record.
Like a Hurricane – Track listing
Right from the first three, full band-backed power chords of opening track, “Get What You Take,” Pint Size Hero lets listeners know what they’re in for; both with Hurricane as a single album, and for new fans just coming on board, what to expect from the group on the whole: Grounded rock and realistic recording. The three English gents (Chris Howley-Lead Guitar/Vox, Jamie Whitburn-Drums/Backing Vox and Carl Bartlett-Bass Guitar/Backing Vox) demonstrate their embrace of ‘the real’ with their shared vocal duties and the fact that each of such is placed in the mix just so, that you can hear all parts independently and slightly ajar from the others. It feels human and acceptably imperfect – in the way that great rock bands of pre-digital dissection times always did.
As the record plays through, each introduction sets a different tone that calls to mind different, subtle touches and styles of established rock acts. (e.g. AC/DC, Foo Fighters, Black Crowes) Nevertheless, the album stays unified enough and infused with enough arrangement original to Pint Size Hero, that it doesn’t, conversely, feel like a mismatched or copycat assembly of songs. Each of the instruments gets a nice chance to sit at the forefront on various tracks, never making the band feel rigidly fixed or stuck on some kind of arrangement hierarchy.
All the songs do stand well enough on their own though, as is evident by the strong sense of rhythmic consistency established for the individual tracks, once you start tapping your foot, headbanging or getting into a mosh mindset for one song, you don’t have to think twice about ever losing that groove until the next track is cued up. Hurricane has a lot going for it in that regard. Listeners can equally appreciate the album piecemeal or in a non-stop playback.
Tracks like “Soul Train” highlight the tightening of production that comes with post-debut territory, as the careful addition of things like moderate distortion on Howley’s vocals and the aptly described fuzz-driven sound on guitar, signals Pint Size Hero are comfortable enough with their base sound that they were able to get more artistic and play with some effects to create that classic arena rock performance vibe. However, they do so with a restraint that stops them from going from “enhancing artistry” to “overly sanitized.”
From an engineer’s standpoint, Hurricane is really pleasantly mixed. Throw on a headset and you’ll get to hear parts very intimately; interestingly placed in either the left or right like a varying but sensible mosaic. In a more general sense, the mix also allows more supportive parts like the occasional piano and organ, enough room to breathe, making sure that extra layer of melodic complexity isn’t lost on listeners who might otherwise think Pint Size Hero is just another standard outfit.
The second half of the record reigns things in, displaying a slower, but by no means less well-crafted, side of the band. “Discover” and album closer, “Spin the Wheel” each play with more acoustic and melodically exposed motifs but the creative arrangement and slight sonic grit remain. It’s a smartly placed lineup, providing a gradual descent akin to a good roller coaster ride.
A group already featured by NME.com and praised by Classic Rock Magazine as one of the “15 Hottest new bands in Britain,” Pint Size Hero seem poised for even more great things and an album release sure to bring in fan approval of heroic proportions.
Below is the official video for the album’s first single, “Hunger.”
“Like a Hurricane” is set for global release, on Monday, 8 September. Pre-orders are available through iTunes, as well as through the band’s official website for physical copies that come as a signed, deluxe CD pack (with free delivery inside the UK).
You can keep up with, and listen to, Pint Size Hero through the following outlets: