Remember that Northshore EP from a few weeks back that seemed to want to get by on Britrock worship that, for the most part, felt supremely out of date? Well, almost every part of that can be applied to what Follower have delivered up to this point. It really is perplexing to see more and more bands come out plying this style, especially when all they seem to really do is hit a wall before they’ve even picked up any sort of momentum. Thus, it’s forgivable to go into Follower’s debut EP with fairly limited expectations; after all, Voices pretty much dissipated on impact (not the best reaction to have to an early single), and while this sort of alt-rock can still work, having no discernible uniqueness isn’t the way to make the most of it in the slightest.
That might all seem rather dismissive of what is a new band looking to do little more than get a foot in the door at this stage, but it’s not as if it isn’t justified. Follower feel like the exemplification of inoffensive alt-rock that, on the whole, is absolutely fine, but has such little staying power in a climate that’s simply moved on from it. In terms of melody and hook-crafting, Against The Ropes might look to swing for the fences, but it’s as ultimately as interchangeable as all the rest, only able to do so much before it fades away completely.
It’s not difficult to see why this is the case either; in the context of the Britrock that’s clearly being laser-focused on, it’s nigh-on impossible to isolate anything to set Follower apart from Mallory Knox, Young Guns et al. That’s not exclusively bad per se, as Fallen Down shows with possibly the best example of bounding melodic rock with a sweet pop core, but it becomes incredibly bland when it feels as though Against The Ropes is doing its utmost to tick all the boxes for a safe, successful launch. Again, that can result in a handful of melodies and choruses that pleasingly sized, but guitar tones with no real flavour and a production job to make it all go down as smoothly as possible feels like an exercise in royally missing the mark, particularly when it all coalesces into a perfect storm of milquetoast ambivalence on the flatlining ballad Someday Soon, nestling itself somewhere between The Calling’s Wherever You Will Go and any number of local indie chancers. To their credit, the majority of what Follower offer isn’t necessarily terrible, but there’s no identity here whichever way you look at it, underlined by lyrics pivoting towards the struggles with mental health that really do feel bland and inconsequential.
It’s a near-perfect example of the sort of rock gruel that’s not going to offend or rub anyone the wrong way, but has so little of substance that it’d be impossible to do any such thing even if it tried. And that’s where Follower are desperately falling at the minute, sticking unwaveringly to middle of the road where they can’t do anything wrong, but struggle to do anything right on the same token. It’s what makes Against The Ropes so forgettable, and while it’s far from a travesty, it’s also lacking just as many positive qualities as it is negative.
For fans of: Mallory Knox, Young Guns, Blitz Kids
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Against The Ropes’ by Follower is released on 22nd March.