Album Review: Isaac – Burner

In recent years, Nottingham has become somewhat of a scene hub for the Midlands. Great venues including Chameleon Café and JT Soar along with the active scene attracts international acts as well as a plethora UK bands to the city. Out of the all the bands formed in this supportive atmosphere, none are as well liked or as involved as Isaac. Vocalist and songwriter Andrew Shankland has been involved in DIY for years, touring regularly under the moniker Riot 4 Disco as well as his own name before forming the 3 piece in late 2012.

Burner is the group’s debut full length, and contains 11 tracks of hooky melodic punk that is instantly familiar, yet utterly original at the same time. First track “Burden of Your Bones” opens with 4 drum clicks before leaping straight into the four chord punk rock that dominates the majority of the album. The production and songwriting are straight to the point, relevant and unpretentious…There are no gimmicks here, just great songs, well written and well recorded.

The guitar riffs on “Locks Without Keys” and “Ghosts” could have been written by The Menzingers, and “Turtleshell Sunglasses” would fit perfectly on an early Alkaline Trio release. The vocal lines are catchy and honest. This isn’t a “pop punk” record somehow chasing American dreams; this is the soundtrack to growing up in a Midlands town, with all the heartbreak and drinking that entails. When Shankland sings about how “lights flicker in abandoned takeaways” on “Slab Square” its easy to relate.

One of the most stand out tracks on the record is “Chirpse”. Deviating from the wall of sound that permeates most of the record, this is a more down tempo song with incidental clean guitar lines and laid back drums. Its obvious from this, and album closer “Shudder” that Isaac know exactly what they’re doing. If they want to be loud, they will be LOUD; and if they want to be subtle, they can be… “I wish I was handsome, I wish I was tough” is the first lyric on “Shudder”. This is a self-aware album made by a clever and self-aware band – go buy a record, go see a show… Just make sure you pay attention because this record is a lot smarter than Isaac would probably have you believe.

Burner is out on Golden Triangle Records now and can be preordered on vinyl from Don’t Ask Records.

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Sam Moloney

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