Coast To Coast feel like a band in the wrong place at the wrong time. If they’d have been at this point a few years ago when Britrock was at a level of ubiquity that allowed virtually any band peddling the sound some form of success, they could’ve easily become one of the biggest names in the genre. In terms of vocal power and intensity, Kieran Hyland is one of the most expressive and raw frontmen in pop-rock today, taking a Mike Duce-esque approach with bank-bursting emotion over refinement to totally overpower any other run-of-the-mill Britrock band. And while that’s undoubtedly still true today, the steps that the genre has taken over the last few years have left bands like Coast To Coast in the cold, meaning that even greater effort is needed to properly break out.
And while previous releases have hinted towards them getting there, The World Doesn’t Work is a bit more questionable, and it’s really through no fault of their own. Rather, it’s how much more of an effect the aforementioned sea change has had, and how this sort thing has had its appeal so greatly limited. Granted, by that token, Coast To Coast are still among the better bands in that bracket, but replace Hyland with a weaker or more – for want of a better term – conventional, and this would really be no different than any of the past-their-prime Britrock band vying for a spot at the big time today to no avail. It’s about as polished and open-ended as it comes, relying on grand swell and easily-accessible melodies over any sort of heft, and because of that, it can simply feel like one gelatinous mass that might flow well, but doesn’t stand out in any particular area. Boxing may break that trend with a sharper, more incisive guitar line that does a good job at cutting through the bluster, but that’s one track, and its overall effect is fairly negligible when Coast To Coast stick so unwaveringly to their one formula.
It’s certainly not enough on its own to make this a bad EP though; for a release as emotionally driven as this is, dipping its toes into the cleaner brand of mid-2000s emo, the fact that it’s so melodically rich is something of a blessing, particularly on tracks like Be Kind where the reverb only opens it out even further. In terms of pure sonic appeal, this is incredibly easy to listen to and for the most part like, especially when Hyland’s vocals do a good job at forming some distance between some of Britrock’s less-innovative acts. He really is the biggest selling point behind The World Doesn’t Work too, relying on brash, bleeding-heart bellows to convey a sense of rawness so effectively on tracks like The Sun Is Dim, and given that the majority of this material is influenced by Hyland’s relationship with his father, it gives more density to the core of reality that definitely benefits it.
With a bit more weight to the production, this could really be something potent; there’s weight beneath the words that has so much resonance, and Hyland is a formidable presence on his own to carry something with a lot more gravity and meat. That’s ultimately what makes The World Doesn’t Work so disappointing, in that Coast To Coast are playing it safe with their approach when they could really do so much more. It at least makes sense in that regard why they haven’t progressed as much as they maybe would’ve liked to, and hopefully this can be the turning point where they can retool their sound for greater payoff in the future.
For fans of: Lower Than Atlantis, Fatherson, Light You Up
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘The World Doesn’t Work’ by Coast To Coast is released on 26th October on Fox Records.