As easy as it would be to deposit Best Of Enemies under the banner of Britrock bands vying for a breakthrough a good four or five years too late, they can at least be given the benefit of the doubt for having that bit more experience. They’ve been around a bit longer and tried to launch in a more timely fashion with their 2016 EP Sorry State, but there’s not been a whole lot since, and that can make it difficult to work out why they’re choosing now to release new music. Not that much has really changed in their sound, and while it’s admirable to see a band sticking to their guns and ploughing through regardless of the climate they’re rushing headlong into, it’s just a shame to see what is more likely than not an act with big ambitions setting themselves up for a fall. There’s always hope that A Fear That Comes Around could be that one golden release that breaks away from the depressingly mediocre norm that’s been around lately, but it’s going to take a lot to do that and frankly, it’s up in the air as to whether or not Best Of Enemies are capable of it.
And, as could’ve largely been predicted, this doesn’t seem to be that one elusive outlier either. If anything, the notions of Best Of Enemies’ relative experience giving them a leg up seems totally moot, as not only is A Fear That Comes Around following the Britrock guidelines to the letter, but it’s not even memorable or given the same punch that could at least give it some passable qualities. And it’s really hard to recommend something like this; as ever, the framework is there, but Best Of Enemies bring so little extra input to it that this feels like the blankest of blank slates for what this genre has to offer, and when the impact of that is mitigated yet again within the context of only four tracks, there’s barely anything here at all.
It’s not a hard job to isolate the sources of those issues either, mostly because Best Of Enemies themselves pretty much signpost them all directly as they go along. The most immediate one is Sam Christmas’ vocals, which have the distinct Britrock tone in their clarity and focus on big emotionality, but falter royally at the mere notion of sounding distinct or different from the countless others that have come and gone within this scene. Particularly when he tries to sound anthemic and lorn of hope like on the chorus of 24, it highlights just how interchangeable really everything about this band is, adhering to strict Britrock beats that feel overused and outdated. Running Rings probably fares the best in having a better progression and buildup (arguably the bare minimum a band like this should have, but a positive point nonetheless), but nothing about this EP stands as ear-catching or interesting, a fact exacerbated by the meandering nothingness of Shake The Feeling which really does feel like a waste of track space that could have been used much more effectively. Admittedly, there’s a nice windswept clarity to the production that neatly captures the expanse that Best Of Enemies clearly want to cultivate, but there’s not enough worthwhile done with it to make proper use of it, be that in instrumentation with no distinct flavour or colour, or writing that defaults to millennial ennui in the most roundabout, unsatisfying sense that only crumples on intact.
And with that, there’s really not much else to say; that’s how rudimentary this EP feels, and while there’s no joy that comes from pointing that out, ultimately it needs to be said. In the current rock climate, Best Of Enemies feel remarkably outclassed by the vast majority of bands around them, and A Fear That Comes Around feels like the most concise laundry list possible of why that’s the case, rattling off tropes that lack punch, character and relevant skills in an almost remarkably efficient fashion. As is often that case with releases like this, melody is a strong suit to pick up on, but there’s very little here at all besides that, and if Best Of Friends fail to rectify that soon, this could be the last that anyone sees of them.
For fans of: Mallory Knox, Canterbury, Blitz Kids
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘A Fear That Comes Around’ by Best Of Enemies is out now on Undead Collective.