Review by Paul H Birch
“I am not supposed to feel anything, because we were designed to be,” utters Zachary Hart before guitars wash over like an incoming wave, his voice growing more passionate asking for his soul to be saved, until declaring how he “will always love the sea”. The reasons for his despair are unclear; the connection between water and the womb intimated enough to be understood.
Still a young band in their early twenties, but together in some form before they’d even become teenagers, vocalist Hart, Matt Vale (guitar/vocals), Ian Grant (guitar), Jamie Kerr (bass guitar/backing vocals) and Jack Sidaway (Drums) took their name in honour of a friend, and fan who had died in a car crash. That kind of thing certainly colours the aching sense of loss that fills the shimmery indie Brit pop that encompasses Fans of Faye’s Designed To Be.
Big military drum beats and proud guitars set us marching before a detour down 60s styled Euro pop avenues, then it comes up punching musically again with a slight Arctic Monkeys vocal nuance in the late night drinking and fighting of ‘Paint the Sun’. It’s not surprising that it secured radio play at Kerrang! and elsewhere when released as a single. Follow up down that route is ‘Ghost’, a more linear musically upbeat number where the cascading guitar notes call to mind Simple Minds.
With ‘Hunting Season’ they take their tragic romance towards its darker predatory side, it also being distinct and harder-edged musically. Whereas, in ‘Born to Dance’ when the subject of fighting comes up again, as cleverly as it is done, there’s a sense of over familiarity creeping in. Many of the songs tend to be similarly paced, nothing particularly fast or slow, and all with tingly-shingly guitar effects while lyrically I’m hearing stories of ennui, improbable romance, art college allegories and questions about life that I want to tell Hart there is no answer to. Regardless, for all that, there is not one track that I can say I didn’t dislike or would purposely skip over.
Ultimately, for me, that’s the problem, Designed To Be is affectingly atmospheric background music; but I know I’m not its intended audience. Neither is it derogatory for me to claim smart young girls will search for meaning here, that folk living in bedsit land will nod sagely believing someone other than themselves “gets it”, and a hundred other bands out there who will curse that Fans of Faye are better than they are.
7 out of 10
- Designed To Be
- Paint The Sun
- I’m Not Your Artwork
- Are You Finished?
- Born To Dance
- Hunting Season Begins
- Swing With Me