Album Review: Mallory Knox ‘Wired’
Cambridge’s Mallory Knox offers an intriguing and entertaining mix of punchy and noisy with sweet and sharp.
Melody is important throughout this satisfying album. An energetic start, slowing into to the fourth track ‘For You’, suggests that even in terms of song order, there is an underlying sophistication. For a British outfit, there is a distinctly American flavour to their songwriting style; think a blend of Maroon 5 but gutsier, plus Greenday but with a soupçon less naïveté. That’s not a bad thing these days – melody in rock seems rather more fashionable Over There than it is Over Here, more’s the pity.
Perhaps with the exception of the liberal-to-excessive use of major-7th chords, the album both in itself and in its songs is possessed of a pleasant unpredictability and a healthy songwriting nouse. No better is this expressed than in ‘Better Off Without You’, which ticks all the boxes from intro through middle eight to proper ending, and is for this writer, the best of the collection.
Unafraid of sentimentality, there is a lyrically personal touch to several pieces, notably ‘Falling in Love’ and ‘Mother’, which speaks to a certain musical maturity. The artist bleeds for you, which is how it should be.
What does at times get in the way, however – particularly in ‘Saviour’ and ‘Come Back Around’ is the wall-of-sound style of mix that is a key characteristic of the album. Too often, it masks the instrumentation; this is a loss in a music-scape that is overall well-crafted, even to the point of intricacy. Sadly, the lyrics too are occasionally overwhelmed in that morass, which is a shame, for they seem to have much to say. And there we were, thinking the Loudness War was over. I was listening to this on studio monitors – I shiver at how it may grate through tinny buds.
Nevertheless, this is a well-written and commendable album. But I’d be intrigued to hear what Mallory Knox sound like when they’re not trying to overwhelm a packed audience; I’d bet they’re even better.