In recent years, Liverpool has proven to be a hotbed of alternative talent. The hometown of the likes of WSTR and Loathe, post-hardcore collective Decay are yet another Scouse name we’ve been watching closely. Last week brought the release of their debut album, Staring At The Sun, which sees them develop at a remarkable rate.
The foundations of the 10-track release are built on feelings of grief, heartbreak and depression, which contrast with the celebration of their musical breakthrough last year with debut EP Modern Conversation. The highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows make for a turbulent record that has no room for stagnancy. It races from bright and mellow tunes like the opening title track, before suddenly branching out into heavier, Trash Boat-sounding songs like ‘Ache’ and ‘Misery’, conveying their varying inspirations throughout the subgenre.
In Modern Conversation, Decay established themselves comfortably in the fast-paced side of post-hardcore, and Staring At The Sun sees them getting ever closer to mastering it. Following on from three relatively lighter songs, ‘Ache’ comes in at full force. Its immediate heavy post injection and sampling of dialogue from animated film Waking Life shows the diversity of their influence (both musical and film) and how these can be manifested. Unfortunately, the lengthy quote taken from the American philosophy-drama translates as quite cringy and obnoxious as it conflicts with the clear British accent that comes through in Danny Reposar’s vocals. It also severely contrasts with the lyrics across the rest of the record, as they’re usually far from metaphorical as they blatantly describe the dire situations. Without context, the sampling makes for an uncomfortable listen, however once gaining an understanding of the film and how its message links to the album itself, the choice is appreciated but not necessarily accepted.
In the likes of ‘23’, the five-piece easily convey that the heavier tones aren’t all they’re limited to. The eery isolated guitar plucks, matched with the gentle, smooth vocals really show another extent of their repertoire, however it certainly isn’t how the album was expected to close. Following on from explosive hits with catchy choruses, it’s an odd choice to leave on such a jilting and sombre note, but given how the moods fluctuate so randomly to echo that of a human experience, it can’t be faulted as such.
When it comes the lighter, more emo-influenced tracks, Decay excel at something that often troubles others in the scene. They allow the instrumentation to build and become a refined and full sound but don’t overwhelm or drown out the emotive vocal lines. The production, curtesy of Ian Sadler (Roam, Homebound), is a considerably big plus here as their instrumentation throughout the record takes many stylised forms and are all engineered to perfection. For example, in ‘Hold On’, each member is heard excelling as open hi-hat and snare patterns and rumbling bass riffs take centre focus but are well integrated with the supporting guitars rather than fighting over them. Despite being vocally and lyrically the least stimulating song, the quality and intricacy of the other elements counteract it.
Amongst these extremes, future post-hardcore anthems can easily be found. Lead single ‘Comfortable’ and second track ‘Empty Feeling’ are both packed with tight hooks, enigmatic riffs and big choruses, destined for the stage. These are defining tracks for Decay and ones that will be highlights of their setlists for years to come.
Staring At The Sun is a rare find in terms of debut albums. It has its slip-ups and teething issues of course, but the overall quality and playful versatility is profound for a band so fresh-faced. With this release, Decay have come in hard to prove they’re the next big name in post hardcore.
Staring At The Sun is out now via Fox Records. Purchase the album here.