It feels as though False Advertising haven’t been given a fair shake up to now, and it’s not too difficult to see why. They slot themselves into an indie-rock scene that’s right between scrappy, ‘90s-inflected garage-rock and modern, down-to-earth indie-punk, two scenes that are currently struggling to hold their seams in place as it is, and thus has led to them being generally lost in the shuffle when it comes to where Britrock in general is currently heading. It’s not like the band themselves is totally absolved of blame though; they’ve usually been decent without displaying too much that could result in a significant leap up, something which really isn’t helpful for the position they’re in. But with signing to Alcopop! for this sophomore album – otherwise known as the de facto home of the UK’s underground indie success stories – there’s at least a brighter light shining on False Advertising than previously, and that surely accounts for something moving forward.
And really, Brainfreeze is a testament to just how far that extra push can take a band, as False Advertising haven’t really changed a great deal, but there’s the sense of a band ready to go much further on the path they’re on now than ever before. It’s definitely more robust from a sonic perspective, and relevant in its outlook on the world in a way that’s ready to push False Advertising further forward in the conversation than ever before. Even if they’re yet to settle on a sound that’s fully their own, Brainfreeze is the logical next move that point in almost every way, and it frequently makes the most of it.
Of course, the fact that False Advertising haven’t really hit their peak yet is noticeable, and although it’s really not an issue in most severe sense, it can come across like something is being held back that’s preventing the band from being just a bit better. It’s mainly a case of the production not really doing a lot to make these songs hit more, coming across like a slightly denser take on what’s a pretty rote indie-punk styleset that, in all honestly, isn’t the best. However, it says a lot about False Advertising’s musical and compositional abilities that they’re able to bypass a lot of the most negative effects with relative ease, as tracks like Influenza and Personal Gain offer a more tactile approach to riff-rock rumbling that is pretty effective on the whole. Jen Hingley really ties it all together as a vocalist as well, with an underlying frustration that’s not exactly uncommon with indie-punk like this, but it’s sold with a lot more might and conviction to really connect with the thicker presentation (something that Chris Warr in his admittedly limited vocal contributions unfortunately can’t quite hit). It’s a solid foundation overall, hitting the right marks for False Advertising to have a strong impact, and while the familiarity can slightly detract, it never leads to anything outright failing to work.
The same can be said for the writing as well, as False Advertising root themselves in social and political discourse that has been gone over more than a few times at this point, but is still more than worthy to examine and scrutinise in the way they do, especially on the smaller, more human level they lean towards. There’s definitely a bigger picture in frame like with At My Top’s criticism of biased news outlets, but homing into the human epicentres of such problems like on Uncomfortable and We’ve Heard This All Before does present a fresher outlook on the whole. It comes together the most when the album is bookended by Influenza and So Long, two songs about death that see Hingley learning to come to terms with the loss of her mother, which makes the ground-level noise across the rest of the album carry a lot more weight in its personal impact.
It’s instances like these that present such a tantalising picture of where False Advertising could go with just a bit more seasoning. They’re closer to real greatness than ever before on Brainfreeze, particularly thematically, with developing a sound of their own being the only threshold to cross to come truly great. They’re close too, as a good number of moments on this album show, and between an execution that’s already solid and lyricism that’s really hitting a high watermark, the natural progression they’re making only continues to be heading in an upward swing. There were already a couple of reasons to keep an eye on False Advertising, but Brainfreeze is where it’s solidified that it’d be foolish not to.
For fans of: Tigercub, Frauds, Fangclub
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Brainfreeze’ by False Advertising is released on 8th November on Alcopop! Records.