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“Under the Surface” by Pistols At Dawn

A vocal isn’t usually the starring element of a rock record, let alone a hard rock release, but there’s something special about the crooning in Pistols at Dawn’s Ascension that has got both critics and fans feeling pretty excited this September. Where a lot of other alternative rockers have been content to go black and white with their hooks in 2022, Pistols at Dawn are doing the opposite in songs like their lead single “Under the Surface,” and deep cuts “Get Away” and “Dictator.” Their colorful heavy music is worthy of the buzz it’s getting, and that can’t usually be said for most of the music coming out of this melting pot of a music scene.

The guitar parts in tracks like “Dictator,” “For You,” and the aforementioned “Under the Surface” are a lot more texturally present and tonally expressive than what I’ve been hearing from major label acts lately, but they’re just as much confined to the pop compositional framework I would want from a standard pop single. I like that Pistols at Dawn aren’t being rebels solely for the sake of turning against the mainstream values a lot of their competition embrace, but instead working with elements that do the most for their sound – and those who would listen to it.

It’s easy to understand where “Under the Surface” was a clear choice for the lead single, but I would also say that “Fly” and “Keep Me Guessing” have just as much of a pop appeal, and really there isn’t a spot of content on this record that feels too inaccessible for the average audiophile to get excited about. Too many artists are getting hung up on balancing out a tracklist for all the wrong reasons, but this is a band that you can tell wants to be themselves, whether they’re on the stage or in the studio the same.

A lot of the hype that has surrounded Pistols at Dawn has been just a bit misleading in the sense that not many critics have discussed their depth as songwriters and performers alike. At this point, we all know that they’re adept at rocking and turning up the volume with the best of them, but the multilayered nature of their new music is profound enough to where I think serious metal fans, discerning rock journalists, and even some listeners who felt jaded with heavy music in general are going to start taking note of their output.

Mindy McCall



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