Above Them - Are We A Danger To Ourselves? (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Above Them

Are We A Danger To Ourselves? (2012)

Specialist Subject Records / Yo Yo Records / Kiss of Death

Another punk/rock band hailing from the great wastelands of Yorkshire! This four piece (they've boosted their ranks from being a trio) has been around the U.K. (and touring Europe and the U.S.A.) for a few years now and although I'd seen their name around a lot I'd never heard them so was looking forward to getting hold of a review copy of this, the band's second album.

But I have one main issue with this record which I need to get out of the way early on: The album sounds too produced and too polished, whereas I had, mistakenly, assumed that it would be a grittier listen. This might seem petty but for a punk/rock band I tend to feel that having such a pristine sound sucks some of the life out of the music. I listened to the guitar and all chord changes were seamless, almost melding together, which created a smooth sound that doesn't invigorate me.

With that out of the way and having adjusted my expectations, Are We A Danger To Ourselves? features a dozen tracks of melodic punk/rock that are blessed with some good arrangements and structures helping me to break away from thinking too much about the lack of an overall spark. It is these arrangements that perhaps mark out Above Them as being more of a rock band than a punk band, and cuts like "Temper Like A Hand Grenade," "Concrete Forgiveness" and "Two (Many) Nights in Paris" do prove that these guys can write some top quality songs. Additionally the closing (title) track does a wonderful job of ending the album as it has that perfect underlining quality to the way it plays out and made me wonder if it was written specifically for that purpose or just fitted in by accident.

I have to admit that this was one record that really took me some time and effort to get my head around, and after my initial draft of this review I still felt that I was missing a trick with Above Them so listened to the album a few more times, and then it hit me that I could accept it (how magnanimous of me!) for what it was: more melodic rock rather than punk lacking punch. As such, I've started appreciating the album and I'm hearing snippets that remind me of Samiam (a band I love) and also later Foo Fighters (I love "Monkey Wrench" and a handful of other tracks are okay), so definitely a record of melody over punch. That means the 7/10 is a reflection of me getting over my own preconceived ideas and enjoying the album for just being a good album.