From gritty hard-rock arrangements to pop-punk vocals and unforgettable hooks, Lockjaw Smile carve out their own fresh pathway within the modern scene, with this superb album of original anthems.
Kicking into gear with the familiar yet fresh appeal of Dreams, the project Along The Way seems to lead with a fine use of contrast – that between melancholy and optimism, and that between intensity and softness. This occurs from instrumental to vocal, and indeed from verse to pre-chorus to hook. Weave in a soaring guitar solo that swiftly intensifies during the final moments, and we’re off to an unpredictable yet satisfying, ultimately explosive start.
Crazy One follows and there’s plenty to appreciate in the way of musicianship and creativity. Heavy bass work, stylish and spacious, faultless unity between players, and lower-toned vocals that poetically lure you in as we build towards the power and uplift of another mighty hook.
For the yesteryear rock fans, there’s a strong presence of nostalgia to this album, but with that comes a refreshingly original string of lyrical webs, each one decidedly honest, revealing yet often inspiring and beautiful in its own unique way.
Switching gears immensely is the fast-paced ferocity and progressive, theatrical set-up of My Friends – again bringing home the absolute skill and passion of the band.
Then to further that eclecticism, to underline how each song’s intention essentially dictates the direction of the music, Queen of Spades brings a sort of grungy Gypsy-folk vibe to centre stage, with united vocals elevating the emotion and poetry of the writing in a fearlessly vulnerable manner. A brilliant twist in the fabric of what was expected, and a great way to recapture any wandering minds.
Other highlights include the subsequent track Good Thing, utilising a cinematic dance flavour that seems completely leftfield, with a stunning hook fit to appear in the likes of Stranger Things or some other reworking of times past. There’s also the style, swagger and contrastingly haunting vocal presence of Thousand Miles Away, and the inescapably catchy closer Between Love and War.
Given its broad range of influences and the quickly relatable, accessible and recognisable nature of the leading voice, there’s still something underneath all of these surface qualities, that gives Lockjaw Smile an unparalleled degree of identity and appeal. Their music connects in a deeply human way, not confined by genre but writing from a place of sheer curiosity and heart. For all of these reasons, Along The Way is a gift that keeps on giving.