Artwork for Superlove’s ‘follow:noise’ - the band in a circular frame



You might remember that Superlove released their debut full-length only last year. You then might also wonder why they’re releasing another just over a year later. Further to that, you might recall how their pop-rock / hyperpop hybrid has often been a misshapen creature since the start, brimming with ambition under an execution that walls off their full potential. All of those things are true, and that leaves follow:noise feeling rather odd when it lands. It’s actually their most refined, cleanly-fitting work yet, but at the same time, acts as the next step down a creative cul-de-sac that, in hindsight, has tacitly been brewing with Superlove for a while.

Ironically, it’s said refinement that reveals that the most. On future:love, Superlove are at their most sonically centralised, where the essence of Britrock is a far more immovable core with less space for tangents and quirks to be indulged in. Thus, their exploration of hyperpop—the USP they’ve built themselves around to a not-insignificant degree—struggles to get further beyond a surface level. It’s an aesthetic more than a conscious experiment, which is inherently less interesting when follow:noise adheres to formula as often as it does. There’s rarely a rogue spike of weirdness that’s become expected among the vast quantities of hyperpop; these songs are locked into bearing either a tart, jittering coat of production or a low-down, hard-edged riff, sometimes alternating one after another. And that really recontextualises a lot of Superlove’s past work as falling pretty short of the sum of its parts. Even in attempts to make it all more robust, follow:noise finds it difficult to fill in some glaring gaps where needed to make this exciting. Hell, on Seasons, they even bring back the chirping birds in quieter moments that were ubiquitously unnecessary already on previous album Colours.

And there’s no real joy that comes from saying that, because Superlove are the sort of band you want to root for to do well. They definitely know their way around a pop melody, evidenced by how You and Lifeline pair their choppy, processed percussion with electronic twinkles and pop-rock sensibilities to sound reasonably big. Strip these songs down to their barest skeletons, and you’d have something that could probably go toe-to-toe with early-2010s Britrock as far as unshakable composition goes. Even Jacob Rice’s voice comes with that regionalised Britishness that defined bands like Lower Than Atlantis and Enter Shikari back in the day, as does the big, broad, romanticised lyricism that Superlove seem hell-bent on turbocharging when paired with this sound. follow:noise feels designed with its sweep in mind, as a means of amplifying an emotionality that comes from alternative music this widespread in mind.

There’s merit to that, definitely, as there is with Superlove consciously striving to make the most concise version of themselves for it to hit more. But whether they really do that is kind of up in the air, as follow:noise treads water on a rather fundamental level. For what it’s trying to be, it simply can’t go the distance thanks to how conservative Superlove are; the opportunity to embrace a weirdness and unpredictability simply isn’t there. Coupled with a rock basis that’s more concrete but also isn’t anything too wild in itself, follow:noise finds a run that already struggling to pick up steam begin to peter out again. At this point, just going for broke on every front is the only viable move.

For fans of: Don Broco, Enter Shikari, Lower Than Atlantis

‘follow:noise’ by Superlove is released on 2nd June on Rude Records.

Artwork for Buggin’s ‘Concrete Cowboys’ - caricatures of cowboys above a city


Concrete Cowboys

You might remember Buggin from that Flatspot Records compilation from earlier in the year, the one where nobody really got the chance to stand out due to short songs that couldn’t properly show off their abilities, and what felt like a huge ratio of bands grappling to fit in the same hardcore box. When Buggin’s contribution sat at only 50 seconds long, obviously it wouldn’t be indicative of their very best. Not like a full-length, in which Concrete Cowboys doesn’t so much smash those prior signs, but reduces them to atoms.

With the sole exception of Scowl, it’s a convincing argument for Buggin being easily the best of Flatspot’s Class of 2023. Boldness and buoyancy are Concrete Cowboys’ most operative legs, thanks to a pleasingly full-force embrace of the ‘punk’ end of hardcore-punk. There’s none of the monochrome, concrete-cracking steel that caps plenty of their contemporaries; instead, a song like Get It Out funnels that will through something more bounding and scrappy, while Redacted and Youth are both just straight-up punk songs. With a splash of colour in the production and a notably lighter touch in places—Snack Run being the clearest, most obvious example—it makes this more digestible than the umpteenth iteration of the streetwise Sick Of It All formula.

Of course, there’s no change to the sub-20-minute runtime or some of the truncation that brings, though it’s far less of a hamstringing note here. Buggin are able to work with it instead of despite it, thanks to the aforementioned lighter tone that absolutely works in their favour in the writing. They’ve sometimes branded themselves as a fun hardcore band and that does encompass the wit and jeering woven into this style of aggression, from the plight of retail workers on The Customer Is Always Wrong to the non-men in alternative bands that still have to contend with being dubbed ‘female-fronted’ on Not Yours. Naturally there are also broader shots taken, like on the terrifically-named Poser Bulldozer, but it never compromises Buggin’s sharpness. Bryanna Bennett is just too much of a firebrand on the mic to let that happen, all spit and bile and puked-up razorblades that always manage to resolutely hit.

It’s a testament to how effective Buggin are that they can not only match their contemporaries, but surpass them too. For as fresh and new as this wave of hardcore can sometimes be, it’s worth taking stock of how many of these bands have enough to them that’s points towards greater longevity, and Buggin absolutely belong in that camp. They’re exuberant and entertaining while still having their hard edges, which is a blend that leaves a cratering blow to a corner of the genre where that isn’t really in style at the minute. All it takes is for this band of concrete cowboys to ride into town and take it over for themselves.

For fans of: Jivebomb, Initiate, Speed

‘Concrete Cowboys’ by Buggin is released on 2nd June on Flatspot Records.

Artwork for DETHRXNER’s ‘TAUNT’ - a pink room that has been ransacked. DETHRNXER’s logo has been superimposed over it



According to TAUNT’s accompanying press release, DETHRXNER “[combine] the raw energy of heavy hardcore with the flair of modern rap,” which might be stretching the truth a tiny bit. You can basically replace that description with the phrase “they are a modern metalcore band” and it’d be entirely as accurate. Because that’s really what this is, where certain strata of the genre have lost so much vision that embellishing technicalities becomes the only way to say anything about them. DETHRXNER are a modern metalcore band; that’s pretty much all that needs to be said.

To be fair to them, they’re not exactly incompetent at it though. The guitar chugs on a song like ALPHA JUSTICE do have a surprising amount of weight to them, given how firmly locked into the immovable, chrome production style that DETHRXNER are. Compared to your average Arising Empire act—side note: it’d be unthinkable if DETHRXNER didn’t sign to them sooner rather than later—there’s more meat on these bones while sticking in the same lane. And…that’s about it. It’s all safely tucked in that same space, seldom offensively dull but unquestionably interchangeable. Any vaunted hip-hop side is relegated to some swing and swagger that honestly isn’t uncommon at all, nor do DETHRXNER put any kind of spin on it. Sure, POWER might attempt to double down with a few skittering beats and sub-bass, though that might be more of an influence of UnityTx’s Shaolin G guesting than the band themselves.

That’s the one other noteworthy thing about TAUNT—how much pull DETHRXNER seem to have within their scene. Okay, they’re not getting topshelf names or anything, but as a means of flaunting some connections, Cabal’s Andreas Bjulver and ten56.’s Aaron Matts are about on the level you’d expect. It’s just a shame that neither really do much of note, besides an occasionally different vocal tone. It can feel as though they’re here for name recognition purposes than actual creative synergy, which, again, metalcore can have a bad habit of doing. But it’s not like Neema Rad is a tremendous vocalist on his own merits, defined mostly by a brashness as opposed to power or precision. You could say that fits for what DETHRXNER are singing about—they float somewhere around self-empowerment and a less conceited, less explicit version of Attila’s confidence—but you’re still left with a pretty flat product at the end of it all.

There’s nothing really added to the conversation here, or even anything that makes a convincing argument for DETHRXNER to even be capable of that. At best, TAUNT is a fine time-filler if you’ve exhausted every other metalcore avenue under the sun, and you somehow still want more. At worst…it’s never awful, but it bears the same brand of so many others trying to slip through the bottleneck with the odds wildly stacked against them. Chances are DETHRXNER aren’t going to be making much of a stir with this EP; you’re more likely to forget they even exist before anything close to that happens.

For fans of: Half Me, ten56., Cabal

‘TAUNT’ by DETHRXNER is released on 2nd June on Prime Collective.

Words by Luke Nuttall

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