‘I can no longer carry the weight of your sin’ vocalist and guitarist Nick Jones confesses on the opener to Under Our Sky, ‘Glass’. Notions of self-doubt and uncertainty do indeed pervade much of Pocket Apocalypse’s debut, a band heavily involved with the very-welcome recent waves of sonic viscera Liverpool’s music scene has been calling out for. However, to label Under Our Sky a record founded on anxieties would be an unjust judgement. Rather, it is fitted out with sentiments of faith and self-confidence, an album full of hope, and a statement of intent from a band who clearly have much to offer.
Drawing strong comparisons to the likes of Arcane Roots and snagging supports with This Town Needs Guns and Cleft, the balance between the nuanced and the epic is juggled in a profound showing of both musicianship and composition. Jones’ vocals shine throughout against a mixed backdrop, whether it be the offbeat bludgeoning of the opening to ‘Hollow’ or the more sedate, mellow aesthetic of the closer, ‘What’s Left Behind’. As with fellow math-inflected locals Alpha Male Tea Party, there is a provocative sense of unpredictability round every corner, giving Under Our Sky a distinct flavour not found in abundance in our neck of the woods.
The varying dynamics of the record can further be seen as reflected in their subject matter. As noted above, ‘Glass’, one of the strongest tracks on the album, sees Jones in a state of loss. He later cries, exasperated, ‘you criticise me when there’s blood in my throat’, his tether increasingly stretched and his emotions on show. Within the same song, however, the band find it within themselves to defiantly protest; ‘I will no longer be tied to you’ proclaims Jones, backed by a canvas of angular, full-blooded guitar riffs and drums. It’s an admirable stance, and when expressed in a manner as focused as it is here, is impossible not to buy in to.
For all of the developed and more intriguing elements of Under Our Sky, however, one of its biggest appeals is undoubtedly its immediacy. The urgency to the likes of ‘Leezl’ is thrilling in its execution, a masterclass in balancing intensity and retaining the complexity expressed elsewhere. Similarly, ‘Ice-Nine’ sees the band sit closest to the likes of Alpha Male Tea Party and You Slut!, with the vocals happy to take a backseat and allow the wonderfully jagged instrumentation to take centre stage.
When Jones declares ‘I will be heard, I will speak’ on ‘Leezl’, it is hard refute him such a thing. Replete with barbed instrumentals and impossible to second-guess, Under Our Sky never compromises its sense of fervour and substance, balancing ferocity with an impassioned underbelly with stunning results. With the album due for a release on the 23rd March, Jones puts it best himself when, on ‘Missing Piece’, he asks of his audience; ‘what are you waiting for?’