If a band is labeled with a certain genre, then it’s inevitable that the band’s album ends up categorized accordingly. UK rock band Sharks were described in their press release for new album Selfhood as a punk band. As a punk album, then, Selfhood is bland and confused. Lead singer James Mattock attempted to clarify in an interview, stating, “We aren’t a punk band.” But as a straight rock album, Selfhood is middling and piece-meal, with influences pulled from all directions.
In that same interview, Mattock mentions inspirations ranging from Woody Allen to Portland, but the biggest was The Smiths. That part, at least, makes sense. Songs like “22” and the great builder “Wild One” have a Smiths bounce and guitar work. “Portland” brings out Andrew Bayliss and Mattock’s best Johnny Marr guitar impression. Their guitars climb and fall with melody that doesn’t show up in the rest of the album’s standard barre chord chugging.
However, the full connection to the ’80s romantics gets muddled behind anthemic drums and Mattock’s flatline Matt Skiba vocals. The punk leanings are obvious, but those leanings hold back what could’ve been a good “British” rock album along the lines of early/mid-’90s Blur, later Smiths, or Stone Roses. The drums are too big, the vocals too plain, and the guitars too chugging. But on the punk side, the drums aren’t quick or inventive enough, and there’s not enough grit to make comparisons to The Buzzcocks or The Clash.
Overall, Selfhood is caught between two worlds in the worst kind of way.
Essential Tracks: “22”, “Wild One”