Record review: A Fight You Can’t Win – A Fight You Can’t Win

a1003473261_10Grunge, punk, pop – Edinburgh outfit A Fight You Can’t Win have seen fit to brand themselves as all of these things, and they’re not wrong to aim for these areas.

Each of them is in desperate need of reinvigoration in the local scene, and the four-piece’s debut EP seems set on providing this year’s defining 12 minutes of chaotic fun, even if it does fall slightly short.

As an opener, ‘Bruised Like A Porn Star’ ticks all of the genre’s necessary boxes, feedback creeping in from the sides, longish crazy intro, screams in all the right places, but its hard edges are betrayed by the chordal twists and turns, the first example of their considerable songwriting chops.

They find their feet proper on ‘Jerusalem Crickets’, which showcases all the elements of a band with huge potential and then some.

Frontman Matthew Bakewell’s vocals have the natural tension and versatility of a great frontman; at one point he substitutes his usual impassioned bellow for Jeff Buckley, combining a trembling vocal with great delivery.

Just listen to the way he murmurs: “why are you singing along/there isn’t even a song” before the guitars roar back in – fantastic.

From there on in, it’s a comedown.

Possible companion tracks ‘Boiling Sea’ and ‘Burning Sky’ certainly seem unified in their slightly generic nature, but both give off sparks of originality and surely make powerful additions to their live sets.

Overall, they combine with the other less-than-inspiring parts of the first two songs to leave the listener with the impression that the group is either holding back on their more eccentric (and better) ideas to conform to how a punk band should look and sound.

‘Bruised Like A Porn Star’s completely unfitting title is the most obvious sign, an attempt to add some toughness to what is really just a good rock song, but more and more you begin to wish they would think outside the box that bit more.

‘Viking Cancer’, a visceral, generic hidden track that closes the EP in a maelstrom of screams, sounds like a crystallisation of how they want to come across, but the truth is A Fight You Can’t Win deserve more than being just another punk band.

Their ambition is clear across this EP, from ‘Boiling Sea’s vocal intro to ‘Jerusalem Crickets’s willingness to mess with its structure and tempo, and it’s this that quietly elevates them to ‘ones to watch’ status.

Nothing’s perfect here, but if things go the group’s way it’ll be seen as a necessary stepping stone, and a solid one at that.

Older conservatives, don’t let their image and song titles prevent you from connecting with what’s within.

Young anarchists, don’t let the inherent songwriting ability A Fight You Can’t Win possess turn you off one of Scotland’s most promising acts.

Words: Andrew Maguire

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