Ian Bradshaw (vocals/guitars) and Dom Sirkin (drums/ bass) are the two people that make up Highway Battery. The duo keeps it fairly simple with few effects and minimal overdubs. Their latest Peanuts and Cyanide displays a talented band that are a work in progress but definitely have a number of overt strengths. The best moments come from the lyrics and vocal delivery. Bradshaw avoids typical lyrical clichés and the band sounds good sometimes on the verge of great when they harmonize.
The EP is a complete DIY effort and still leaves a couple of thing to be desired. When their songs get layered with multiple instruments the recording gets a bit messy. That being said, the songs were enjoyable even if a couple of tweaks could have benefited the listening experience. A minor problem is that there are timing issues every once in a while. Nothing major but still noticeable if you have an ear for detail.
The album opens with “One More Fever” which is arguably the highlight of the five songs. It revolves around a couple of guitars and vocals. The song is interpretive but seems to be about the different stages of a relationship. Lyrics like “Ignore the pain and take the plunge. I'm falling in but it’s half the fun. You run away into a setting sun so I'll be here when things come undone” seem to wrap the beginning and end of a relationship rather eloquently.
“Birchwood Road” is another well-written song but the addition of drums was almost unnecessary because of the poor recording. The chorus is infectious and the vocal performance continues to be the key factor to the band’s success. “Birchwood Road” and “Deep Breaths” both mention leaving town. I’m not sure this was a conscious decision but certainly starts to connect themes.
“Sunday Drive” is largely instrumental and suffers because of it. Unfortunately breaks between the inspired vocal performances are bogged down by a narrow mix. The EP closes with “A Work of Art” which was a decent, sparse acoustic based closer.
The EP is far from perfect but the band has potential. Hopefully we can hear a bit of improvement in the recording quality next time around. That being said, there are a number of songs on Peanuts and Cyanide that are enjoyable regardless.
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