No Gods

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Inspired by everyone from Charles Bukowski to Gallows, Leamington Spa quartet Sharks have been described as the saviors of British punk by the rock press, championed by the likes of the Clash's Mick Jones and Frank Turner, and invited on tour by the Gaslight Anthem and Social Distortion since their arrival on the scene five years ago. So it comes as something of a surprise that their debut album, No Gods, is such a tame affair. Frontman James Mattock has the suitably snarling vocal style down to a T, while there are the occasional flashes of boisterousness, as on the punchy opener "Til the Wonders Rise" and the sweaty pogo-inducing "Matthew's Baby." But despite the presence of producer Brian McTernan, best known for his work with post-hardcore outfits We Are the Ocean and Emarosa, its 11 tracks have more in common with the stodgy indie rock of the mid-2000s than the raw punk of the early '80s. "Arcane Effigies" is a nostalgic ode to young adulthood that recalls the dated laddishness of the Enemy and the Twang, "Dawn Soft Light" and "What Entails?" are unremarkable slices of boorish pub rock, while the more palatable "Turn to You" echoes the romantic mod-pop of the Ordinary Boys. Sharks have built up a reputation as one of the U.K.'s most vibrant young live acts, but the disappointingly flat No Gods suggests that something must have gone missing on their way to the studio.

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