Departures and Moose Blood have been two of Fist In The Air Records’ most positive artists over the last year, and for good reason. The former released the excellent ‘Teenage Haze’ whilst Moose Blood established themselves as one of the UK’s hottest prospects with the equally excellent ‘Moving Home’, one of my favourite releases this year and the first 7” I ever bought. With both making waves across the pond after signing with No Sleep Records, the split is a strong suggestion of things to come following each bands respective successes.
With two tracks from each band and a fourteen minute run time the split serves as little more than a taster before both prepare to release albums next year. Departures kick off proceedings with the previously streamed ‘A Song For The Sunset’, the splits best track. Bursting into life straight away with some clever drumming rich layers are added before vocalist James McKean comes in and picks up were ‘Teenage Haze’ left off, delivering emotional and well written lyrics (‘Falling back in love with all that doubt I used to feel, It wrapped me up so tightly’) in trademark strained post-hardcore fashion. The track doesn’t really see the band break new ground as it would slot easily onto ‘Teenage Haze’ and blend in perfectly, but the contribution from Moose Blood’s Eddie is a nice touch, making for a varied track that is easily one of the best in the bands discography. ‘Closing Doors’ is a little less intense, although McKean’s passionate delivery works well over less inventive instrumentals. It remains an effective song, but doesn’t have a significant impact on the listener.
‘Stay Here’ by Moose Blood received a number of plays on Radio 1 following the splits announcement, and the general consensus was that it was one of the best tracks the Canterbury based band have produced so far, and I’d have to agree. It’s the longest track the band have released, meaning it allows for more creativity whilst still capturing what makes Moose Blood so charming and absorbing – emotional vocals, nostalgic delivery, uplifting instrumentals and allusions to records. It’s on a par with the majority of tracks on ‘Moving Home’ but sounds a lot more confident, seeing the band continue their excellent run of form. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about final track ‘Girls’, which takes the down tuned vocal-heavy intro to ‘Boston’ and draws it out for an extra minute. It’s a nice idea that will go down well at shows but on record it comes across a little forced and flat, especially when paired with the clumsy instrumentals that follow it.
Most splits favour artists with similar styles and sounds but Departures and Moose Blood occupy different genres, meaning it’s much harder to draw comparisons, but also gives each artist a fair share of the spotlight. The split doesn’t really see either band try anything new instead shows that Departures and Moose Blood are still full of ideas and potential. If they take tracks like ‘A Song for the Sunset’ and ‘Stay Here’ and carry that quality over to full lengths next year then both bands could easily be two of the biggest names of 2014.
Rating – 6/10