Album Review: Straight Lines – Freaks Like Us (Xtra Mile)

It’s been a long time coming this, the difficult second album by Welsh Pop Punk rockers Straight Lines.  Delays are a fact of life but the length of the delay for this album must have seriously tested this band of highly likeable chaps to the limit.  In previous conversations with the band about this album Bass Player Todd Campbell told me “We didn’t want to have anything on the record that we couldn’t play live.  The first record had a lot of layers to it, but we took a much more simple approach to Freaks Like Us”.

It certainly shows, taking the lead from some of modern rocks finest bands like New Found Glory, The Wildhearts and Hundred Reasons, there’s a no frills air to the songs with the focus on tight rhythms, strong choruses.  What this achieves is a massive step on from their debut album.  It’s all rock this time with little room for sentiment and they have done away with the sometimes obligatory ballad that seems to be thrown in for a rock album nowadays.  Also noticeable is the development of Thomas Jenkins vocals, there’s a lot more variation is his singing styles between songs.

The album was again recorded in-house, and the production stands up to those that have been given endless budgets.  Song wise the band have de-personalised their lyrics with social observations taking over from personal experiences in content.

The singles ‘Half Gone’ and new release ‘Commitments’ have been well-chosen and are included in the all important first 5 songs of the album, nicely sandwiched between title track ‘Freaks Like Us’ and one of the standout songs on the album ‘Ring The Bells’.  As with all good albums of this genre, it’s not over indulgent at just shy of 37 minutes and no track running over 5 minutes it hits hard and is over quick enough to want to listen again and again.

The philosophy of “Keep It Simple Stupid” stand the test here and less is certainly more.  A highly successful effort that will hopefully propel Straight Lines the way of so many of their South Wales peers and establish them at the very forefront of the UK rock scene.

Rating: 9.5/10
Best Track: Ring The Bells/So Many Paths
For Fans Of: Funeral For A Friend, New Found Glory, Reuben, Hundred Reasons

Track List:
1. Freaks Like Us
2. Commitments
3. Half Gone
4. Ring The Bells
5. Empty Chest
6. Back Of Your Mind
7. The Dealer’s Hand
8. To Be Scene
9. Bury My Thoughts
10. So many Paths

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