‘Eccentric’ is probably the best way to describe Mr Shiraz. They may not possess a Mike Patton-esque level of ‘stretch-everything-as-far-as-you-can-and-see-what-happens’, but it’s these quirks that are intrinsic to the sound of new EP 21 Grams, making it the eclectic and unavoidably bumpy ride it is.
Such idiosyncrasies manage to seep down into the music, and if nothing else, sees them crafting an original sound for themselves. There’s at least a kernel of punk present in each track, but is often surrounded by layers of everything from metal to funk to classic rock. It’s this unclassifiable nature that’s 21 Grams‘ main talking point, both in positive and negative terms. While the fact they have a distinct identity is a definite plus, it often feels that their eccentricities overshadow the actual music, as on the angular Breakfast Club. Couple this with Mikey Shiraz’s vocals which can only be described as an acquired taste and you’ve got a release that often feels as though it’s doing way too much unnecessarily.
It’s a shame, because on pretty much every one of these six songs, there’s a solid musical backbone that would be present if they would be stripped back just a bit. Gleaming The Cube and Cusack would have some great hooks in them if they were only a tad more streamlined (the latter especially), while Bill & Ted manages to break through its layers and stand out regardless, but it’s hard not to think that a bit more simplicity would give it the scope to shine even brighter. Closer Nobody Puts Swayze In The Corner has the right idea – it largely eschews the madness of the rest of the EP in favour of a more straightforward, punkier direction, something that would be well worth investing in in the future.
As it stands now though, there’s a good band waiting to break out of Mr Shiraz, but as 21 Grams shows, they’re being held under by the weight of their own ambition. A bit more focus on one single vision wouldn’t go amiss, and that’s where this EP is ultimately held back. It’s not terrible by any stretch, but to really succeed, 21 Grams could do with losing a couple of pounds.
For fans of: Jane’s Addiction, Faith No More, Rage Against The Machine
Words by Luke Nuttall
’21 Grams’ by Mr Shiraz is released on 7th December.