There is often a lot made of ‘evolution’ and ‘growth’ when appraising a band or artist. Some bands change very little and then there’s bands like Seratones, who have taken the blueprint from their early breakthrough and thrown it straight out of the window. Gone is the Punk sensibility of their debut, 2016’s Get Gone, and in its place is a wicked blend of Rock n Roll, Soul, and old school R&B.
The band’s entire philosophy has changed, and the results are stunning. For their new album Power the band have gone back to the future to create something new and exciting as A. J. Haynes (Vocals/Guitars) explains: “Soul was what I danced to in the kitchen with my mother…Things are really heightened and scary and overwhelming in this country right now and returning to soul music was a way of reaching for comfort and security in all of that.”
As an entire body of work an album can live or die by the strength of its opening few songs, but Power delivers spectacularly. The Doo-Wop smoothness of ‘Fear’ gets things underway before the album’s more bold and brash title track takes centre stage. The thing that really hits you early on is the albums smoothness. Little nods to the Soul classics of days gone by are all there, but that doesn’t mean that the Shreveport five piece are just ripping off old Motown tunes. Far from it.
Each track gives a tip of the hat to the past before pushing forwards into a bold new future. ‘Heart Attack’ is quick witted, fleet of foot and probably the closest the band come to the style which made such an impression for them back in 2016. The track’s fuzzy guitar riffs and throbbing bass lines give it a completely different feel to anything around it, but it still works remarkably well.
The pace drops several gears for the sweeping, melodic beauty of ‘Lie To My Face.’ Without question this is one of the strongest tracks on the entire record. Style-wise imagine a dark, barely lit nightclub in downtown New York back in the 50’s owned by a Mafia kingpin. Now imagine the sultry singer on stage wrapping some of the most dangerous men on the planet around her little finger, and you’re there.
‘Gotta Get To Know Ya’ ensures no drop in quality as the tempo picks up once more. Seratones are all about the groove, and the groove is strong with this one. Again, slight distortion is the order of the day, which blends and contrasts brilliantly well with the silky-smooth vocal of Haynes. It’s a theme which continues into ‘Over You’ which in turn is a triumph in simplicity. If the light sprinkling of piano that peppers this track doesn’t do strange yet wonderful things to you, then you may be incapable of experiencing true happiness.
It’s impossible not to be at least somewhat impressed by a band who change the sound that made them successful for the sake of the art. It’s an admirable stance, but once that new path has been chosen, there really is no room for error. What could be seen as a fresh, new exciting chapter can quickly become nothing more than an identity crisis. But Seratones have pulled of that career handbrake-turn with aplomb.
Simply put Power is stunning piece of work, and easily the best output of the bands short career. Seratones are a band on the rise, and that ascent shows no sign of stopping.