No matter how much EPs to start becoming less and less relevant, there’s still a few bands making their name in the format. After years of critically adored small releases, Philadelphia’s Sheer Mag is finally wreaking havoc with a full release.
Starting on a much more classic rock note than their earlier work, “Meet Me In The Street” hits fast and hard, shaking up the sound with heavy tones and riff-heavy styling. The bass churning second half comes down intensely as they take stage on record triumphantly. Grooving on a lo-fi tick, “Need To Feel Your Love” brings out their dance-funk tones in smooth and addictive fashion. Their chameleon-like ability to spread across works better than a simple tonal shift as they find themselves pulling in pensive filtered-out disco sections too.
“Just Can’t Get Enough” cries out with bleeding riffs and attitude-laden shouts by Tina Halladay, commanding attention from the start. Their effortless knack for letting loose hook after hook is so refreshing to hear after their stellar EPs as well. Shifting to something more chorus and reverb-heavy “Expect The Bayonet” finds them adopting new layers to their sound before contrasting it with some of their aggressive garage rock. Even in the very derivative blues-rock riffs throughout the song, they adapt vocal melodies over them to make something new and fresh.
Letting the bass lead the drive while the guitar provides the swing, “Rank and File” brings another smooth dance-rock track. With some dynamic stop and starts they keep the excitement rolling pulling even more rock moments to great effect. Exploding out on a burst of guitars and drums “Turn It Up” is the crowd-chant track of the record, with more stadium-esque big and simple riffs. The bigger sound does find them sounding a little more generic unfortunately, even though their grooves and visceral bridges do a lot to balance the scales.
Exceptionally 70s in some of the tone, “Suffer Me” throws on some more mellow sounds to make the track old and new simultaneously, with their most lick-aggressive track on the record. Really going for it sonically, vocally and riff-wise, it’s one of the most fun tracks thanks to not only the great sound but the overall sense of joy you can feel in the performance. Thumping bass and rasping guitar sound, make the rushing verses of “Pure Desire” kick along with vigor. The delicious vocal hooks in each chorus have an instantly memorable quality to them as the album continues to fire on all cylinders.
“Until You Find The One” slows things down for more glistening guitars and surprisingly beat-less drive, for a delightful folk-infused interlude. Riffs get more classic rock inspired on “Milk and Honey” as the hooks land a little more forgettable with Halladay’s vocals cutting through strong and gritty all the same.
This more boring sound fades away on “Can’t Play It Cool” as they come at listeners with an onslaught of infectious rhythmic and melodic moments, all elevated by their eccentric delivery and production. The shift between a crooning, 50’s slow-jam and the hard-rock makes a fun dynamic base that the band works quite effectively. In a sad and regretful emotion “(Say Goodbye To) Sophie Scholl” feels all to personal as the riffs ache of pain and the lyrics speak of lessons learned.
Earning their hype quite earnestly. Sheer Mag stick the landing on Need To Feel Your Love getting more than just a few singles worth of great music out on this record. An easy listen from top to bottom tis record continues their shtick of flipping classic and garage rock into something that elevates both, for a record that’s for lack of a better word, sheer fun.
Words by Owen Maxwell