Sharks

Selfhood

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Sharks sophomore album, 2013's Selfhood, is a melodic and catchy batch of guitar-driven pop that finds the band moving away from the hard-nosed punky style of their early EPs to a more mature, nuanced sound. Still led by singer/songwriter James Mattock, Sharks are less snarling in tone here and much more interested in crafting sparkling, hummable songs built upon guitarist Andrew Bayliss' arpeggiated guitar lines. Though there is still a no-nonsense vibe on Selfhood, Sharks seem less indebted to such punk icons as the Clash and Social Distortion, and more inclined toward the British folk-rock of Billy Bragg, Billy Childish, and even solo-career Morrissey. Which isn't to say that Sharks have softened their pub-hardened attitude. On the contrary, while their music certainly reveals a love of classic pop songcraft, Sharks still pummel through these songs with a purposeful energy and muscular single-mindedness that bring to mind the more ruminative post-punk of their forebears. It also doesn't hurt that Mattock, once a throaty vocal presence, has developed quite a bit as a singer, and reveals himself to be a compelling crooner. The change only works to help him sell his lyrics, which retain all the working-class passion and literate rage that made Sharks' previous work so compelling. As Mattock sings on "Your Bloody Wings," "I’m Standing before a sea of blank faces/Tied up to the burning sign of the times/There is no room for you to spread your bloody wings and be everything as you want to be." With Selfhood, Sharks have come into their own as a band, one that’s grown past the simple sturm und drang of punk's three-chord limitations and emerged as something even more inspiring.

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