When is a new album not a new album? This one has been gestating since 2015, when Anteros released their first EP.
A smattering of singles and further EPs have followed and they largely make up the content of this debut album. As such, will long-term fans of the band perhaps feel slightly short-changed? Whatever, that’s not a question to trouble the rest of us too much – we can simply take When We Land on its own merits.
Of which it has many. The album has all the elements required for mass appeal; opener Call Your Mother (‘she will make it better’) instantly sounds like it’s been around forever with a classic chorus which explodes into life. Second track Ring Ring’s crunchy guitar and circular bass complements it well and elsewhere, Drive On is literal with a pummelling pace that is over before it’s finished and would sit well on compilation albums. Recent single Breakfast is held together by frenetic guitars akin to early Bloc Party.
Indeed, the whole album is geared around the traditional song structure of a looming, functional verse which then both completely changes gear and ups the tempo for the chorus. No avant-garde nonsense for this four-piece; they are aiming for hearts and guts, and if they make you think then all the better. Wrong Side has a ground level verse followed by an air punching, fist clenching middle eight. The best touch-point is the ambitious, widescreen pop of The Killers circa-Sam’s Town, or even the pop perfection of ABBA.
Wisely, the epic songs are allowed to breathe by the sequencing as the intermittent lower key moments also demand attention. The science fiction synth of Afterglow brings the mood down for something a bit more layered yet equally determined, a reflection on the intimacies that can only be accessed post-coitus. Ordinary Girl, meanwhile, sounds like Florence Welch’s more tender moments, complete with epic drums and again, it’s got a nagging, familiar chorus that you know you’ve heard before, but this is perhaps testament to the songwriting chops of these young bucks. Let It Out is initially more sparse, starting with electric guitar and vocals before allowing the rest of the band in for a mournful, intense ballad.
Proceedings are brought to a close by Fool Moon which echoes the disco glam of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the long forgotten Long Blondes. Final track Anteros is a nod to their past, having been on their first release, with a closing coda (‘be the first part of the last start’) bringing to mind the grandeur of The Killers’ (them again) high point All These Things That I’ve Done.
But, for there must be a but, therein lies the rub. Those long-term listeners will have little to reward them here, aside from demonstrations of how the band have improved musically and sonically. This is nit-picking though; good pop can and should be heard countless times, and When We Land is nothing if not good pop.