Tyrannosaurus Alan – S.T.B. (featuring Jak Brown) Single Review

Posted: December 14, 2011 in Album Reviews, Single Reviews
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Label: Trench Foot Records

Release Date: 14th November 2011

Tough times befall even the best in the game, and Tyrannosaurus Alan are proof that a) any band of any level of notoriety is not immune from this and b) that it is possible to work around such things and come through unscathed. They persisted in their relentless touring ethos despite for long periods of the year lacking a van and a co-vocalist (Simon Champ often being absent for some shows in the summer due to work commitments), and even this single itself has had a troubled and often-delayed birth, with it first being performed live last winter. I first heard it on a cold night in Sheerness back in February, and I didn’t exactly take to it straight away – it felt like to me the band had listened to a few of Sonic Boom Six’s more overtly hip-hop tracks and were attempting to get in on the act. By the midsummer at Camden Underworld it had beefed up and grown some muscles, and was much closer to the finished piece that was eventually, after much wrangling, released for free download on 14th November.

If you’re still holding out a vain hope that they’ve ditched the hip-hop tendencies altogether and basically put out a lost cut from their Campaign album, you’re still going to be disappointed. However, the finished product is a much more natural progression on from those roots, and let’s face it, the T-Alan boys have never exactly been shy about wearing their rap influences on their sleeves – one of the great ironies of possibly the best ska-punk band in the UK underground is their admission that ska isn’t their personal favourite music style. What’s perhaps most striking here is the layer of ominous tension that hangs over this track, and it shows a level of bubbling restraint that their previous breakneck-speed material lacked, as strong as it was. Not that there’s any restraint from Champ’s partner in crime, Ollie Harries, who spits his state-of-the-nation address in the first verse with typical venom, and zeal and razor precision. Claypigeon’s Jak Brown takes over the mic for the second verse,  and demonstrates a contrasting style to Harries; more elastic and melodic in places, but with no less firepower, and his contribution is a very strong one. A Rise Against-style mid-tempo chorus ties all the component parts together neatly, as well as forming a backbone to the muscular bridge, and while the mid-bridge instrumental breakdown is a little predictable, it does suit the downcast feel of the track. Much praise must be lavished on the production, and the efforts of John Victor and Adam Dray. Thick guitars are backed by big drums, and the horns are dropped into the mix over the top of the guitars to great effect.

‘S.T.B’ is definitely a progression in sound from the frenzied, maniacal energy of their tremendous ‘Campaign’ record, and whether it’s one they persist with is yet to be seen. However, ‘different’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘better’ or ‘worse’. Don’t confuse this stylistic variation with the band softening out in any way, or letting up off the accelerator – this track feels more like an alternative route to get to the same endpoint, and it’s one that can stand proudly alongside the rest of the band’s work on its own merits.

Rating: 86%

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