Band of the Day

2012.02.21

Flashguns

An English band that weaves their indie rock influences into an arena-sized sound
I've burnt files and I've fought with bears, and I've written by the stars and the moon.
lyrics from Come and See the Lights

Formed in 2007, Flashguns are a three-piece group from London, England. The group started out young, having met while in secondary school (British equivalent to high school) in Sussex, a county in south eastern England. After graduating, the band moved to London where they began playing shows in earnest. The band released a debut EP Matching Hearts, Similar Parts” in 2009. They later signed to German label Hummingbird and released their debut album Passions Of A Different Kind two years later in October 2011. Following in the tradition of many of the best British indie bands, Flashguns have a grandiose and passionate rock sound. They are influenced by bands like The Smiths, Nirvana, The Killers and Talking Heads. In December 2011, the band decided to break up despite have just released their debut album. They played their final shows in Germany in February 2012.

Flashguns were barely university age, and living in a big city for the first time, when they released their debut album Passion Of A Different Kind. But they already sounded like an arena rock band from the get go, never mind if they've never played any arenas. They sound like someone squeezed the essence out of nearly every band that's gotten huge in the U.K. in the last few decades -The Smiths, The Cure, U2, Nirvana, The Strokes, The Killers, Arcade Fire- then let the sound fill a huge space. Over the course of its 10 tracks, Passions Of A Different Kind borrows 80s angst and flair without going fully retro, instead staying grounded in contemporary indie rock.

All jangly guitars and adolescently yearning hooks, the album's title track may also be its best. In “Passions of a Different Kind,” lead singer Sam Johnston's voice flutters elegantly up and down with a hint of Morrissey quaver. The band shifts effortlessly from verse to chorus, helping the politely dramatic chorus take you by surprise. There's no surprising on “Come And See the Lights,” it's big and dramatic from start to finish. The track is a ferocious slice of post-punk with Johnston singing, “I've burnt files and I've fought with bears/ And I've written by the stars and the moon” over thundering drums and clouds of atmospheric electric guitar. They explode into a chorus that would be right at home on the Coachella or Glastonbury main stage: a wall of distorted guitar, frenzied keyboard and Johnston earnestly belting with all his might. “Sounds of the Forest” is bouncy and hard rocking, like a pogo stick attached to a rocket. The rest of their debut unfurls with similar strength, slowing its tempo in places, but not flagging in quality. Ultimately, Flashguns haven't really carved out their own unique sound, their rock reminds you of so many great bands you're not sure where their influences stop and they begin. However, they weave their influences together with so much love, earnestness and skill that you want to keep coming back again and again.