On their sophomore release, Little Victories, The Philistines project a diverse assortment of prime aughts-rock while capturing a creative process that allows for the bands inherent enthusiasm to shine through.
The Philistines run the gambit of mid-2000's radio rock. The song construction most closely resembles the Arctic Monkeys, with an emphasis on upbeat, rapid fire guitar chords, and vocals that work in tandem with the instrumental melodies. Funky guitar design can occasionally also resemble the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but more often than not the vocals ring with an intensity more akin to the likes of At The Drive In.
While their sound is primarily an amalgamation of many influences, a couple songs nod more specifically in one direction or another. The track “Candor” starts with an awesome, driving bass-line which is accompanied by block percussion and a descending chord progression that wouldn't sound out of place on a Queens Of The Stone Age album. “Monster”—one of the best songs on the album—carries a dour tone similar to early Nine Inch Nails while racing through a riff that almost plays out like some twisted version of the James Bond theme.
There's a creative duality that's present on the album. The Philistines are co-helmed by Sean Bradbury and Rick Swepson, who share songwriting duties. That back and forth is evident, as the vocals, while uniform, seemingly call and respond to themselves throughout the songs. All of the individual instruments have the care and intention of a band where everybody writes their own parts—rather than, say, having everything working in support of one songwriter's vision, each bass-line and drum part it well thought out and delivered.
Exceptionally clear production also aids in the ability to distinguish each aspect— a feat all the more impressive considering that the whole album was a self-recorded, mixed and mastered affair. In fact, it would almost be crystal clear to a fault, falling on the wrong side of sterility, were it not for the intensity of the vocals. The singing demonstrates restraint—stopping short of the “screamier” elements of At The Drive In, while capturing enough energy to impart the flavor or a live performance.
Ultimately, Little Victories is pristine piece of rock and roll music. The album is clear and coherent, the band's intent is evident and well executed. You can tell that these guys have a lot of fun playing together and that each member takes their instrument seriously enough to give every aspect of each track deserving attention.
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