REVIEW: Canterbury – More Than Know EP

Canterbury

Artist: Canterbury
Album: More Than Know EP
Genre: Sweet rock
Label: (unsigned)

I first saw Canterbury live with Cancer Bats and Billy Talent two years ago. It says a lot about the English four-piece (then a five-piece) and their precocious talent that they stood out on a bill like that, and won themselves a steady legion of adoring fans that has swelled considerably in the months since. Driven by a reckless, infectious sense of adventure and enthusiasm, Canterbury (who do not in fact hail from Canterbury) define their music as “sweet rock” and play a particularly emotive, endearing, almost Disney-like brand of pop rock laced with rambunctious riffs and stellar vocal displays. More Than Know is their second EP, following the Calm Down EP released this time last year and their impressive 2009 debut Thank You. It serves as an appetiser for a full-length which is due to land next year, and keeps excitement levels piqued.

“More Than Know” launches right in with a searching vibe and a cheeky flair to its bass line. The vocals meander slightly, building to a typically huge chorus led by the characteristically standout vocals of Mike Sparks and Luke Prebble. The pair’s beautifully harmonised singing is a particularly impressive aspect of Canterbury’s music, adding an unmistakeable gloss to the zeal of the instruments. This track lacks something of the youthful lustre and panache that characterises their earlier material, but is no less appealing. It’s designed to be played loud to a boisterous audience, and ought to sound incendiary in a live setting. It ends on a splendid solo, setting the bar high for energy levels throughout.

“Routine” is the other new track on the three-song EP. It has a titillating swagger to its opening thrill, sounding almost jazzy, and very sleek and polished. The vocals are similarly lush and while it, too, is neither as raucous nor immediately infectious as one might expect, it’s got a lethal underlying rhythm that will drown you on repeated plays. The music smacks of a confidence and assurance that suits the band, lending the short record an altogether more mature and atmospheric legacy.

The final track is “Lost In the Basement,” a long-time show staple that ought to be familiar to anyone who’s seen them live. It’s marked by the same unerring sense of delight and uproarious fun that oozes through their debut, brimming full of brazen energy and impulsive thrill. A delicious bass line leads the charged verses and it all builds to an exhilarating chorus, but the best part is actually near the end – just when you think it’s winding down, it stops abruptly, revs back up, and explodes in a final, delirious rendition of the chorus, driving the point firmly home.

It’s difficult to judge what direction the new LP may take from More Than Know, especially given “Lost in the Basement” isn’t technically a new song. It does however seem to indicate a willingness to experiment and an ever ripening mastery of their sound. Canterbury are rarely less than brilliant, and on this evidence they seem to have a few tricks yet up their sleeve. They remain an extreme rarity in their genre – a genuinely gifted and ambitious group with a good attitude, set amidst a sea of identikit bands peddling decent, if forgettable tracks. I implore thee, if you are a newcomer, to give them a spin and see what all the fuss is about. Then go see them live at your earliest convenience. Your new favourite band is waiting to say hello.

SCORE: 9/10
Review written by Grace Duffy

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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