On this, their second EP, Bergen County’s HMS Revenge provides another five-songs, not a moment of which is less than completely satisfying. I’ve subjected Voyage to innumerable listens since featuring the band in early January and the disc hasn’t lost a bit of freshness.
A draw to the band has always been singer Rick Warren’s voice, and little has changed in that respect. He is adept at writing engaging melodies and making his surprisingly frequent use of the ‘fuck’ word sound like starry-eyed prose. But it’s not a one-man show. Each member of the band puts their stamp on the EP, most noticeably on this effort, lead guitarist Ciaran O’Donnell, who has shown an increasing penchant for creating stirring leads that launch the quartet’s power-pop sound to the next level.
“Celibate,” the opener and first single, comes on hard with a gravelly rock riff that ebbs into an acoustic-guitar strummed verse which then slips into the chorus. Drastic changes perhaps, but, in spite of their young age, the band are adept arrangers and pull it off with the poise and class of professionals twice their senior.
“Two Birds,” is driven by the most memorable guitar performance on the EP, with a bright sounding rhythm pattern that chatters beneath Warren’s vocals and a bright, poppy guitar melody that cries out in rapture during the chorus.
My favorite track, however, is probably the least ‘rock’ of all of them. The closer, “Furnace,” a thoroughly beautiful and emotive piece in 6/8, gently rows downstream with acoustic guitars idly strumming towards a refrain, where the band again shows off their arranging chops by varying the theme each time. The bridge however, hits with perhaps Voyage’s most scintillating moment when strings softly bleed into the mix, gradually encircling Warren’s voice as he sings the final lines of the track.
HMS Revenge have continued to grow, and, on this release more than the first, appear to be finding their own sound, effectively shedding Muse and Radiohead comparisons (not that those are anything to be ashamed of). They are definitely among the most talented band’s in the Tri-State area, and one to watch in the coming year. My only complaint is that it’s not a full-length.
In A Word: Exciting