LIINES‘ debut album has a tendency to skip from one track to the next barely taking a breath – rarely has a title seemed more fitting than Stop-Start. The band’s name, too, couldn’t be more fitting given their principal musical style of post-punk, with vocal, guitar, bass and drum lines all competing for prominence. If the cyclical nature of things means that musical movements are revived about every twenty years, then LIINES are perfectly placed for indie’s re-embrace of post-punk, a movement which dominated in the early 2000s.
First track ‘Shallow’ kicks things off and gets to express-train speed in seconds, with its choppy guitar line, and Zoe McVeigh’s vocals reminiscent of Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker. ‘Never There’ follows with a drive like that of Silence Yourself-era Savages. ‘Be Here’ is similarly unrelenting with its garage rock feel.
But this isn’t just a bouncing alt. rock album – behind the pace you’ll find sinister guitar solos and basslines that bubble like poisonous liquid. By ‘Find Something’ and its oppressive post-punk aura – coming off like Interpol hanging out with PINS, before halting abruptly – the album has its immense, dark hooks lodged into your brain.
‘Cold’ chills things down noticeably, coming as close to balladeering as Stop-Start gets, with Zoe’s vocals nearing a torch song style plea. ‘Blackout’ is constructed around another sinister guitar line, before ‘Disappear’ merges that sound with straight-out stomp via a flurry from drummer Leila. ‘Hold Your Breath’ is a broken love-song, whilst ‘Never Wanted This’ sounds like PJ Harvey fronting Breeders. Former bassist Steph’s deceptively simple rhythm work kicks off closer ‘Nothing’ and, as album closers go, it’s a banger with shades of Pixies in its structure and a wailing Zoe at its centre.
Whilst the two bands have a different emphasis, contemporaries Desperate Journalist’s 2017 album Grow Up is perhaps the most apposite point of comparison for Stop-Start, with both bands taking the best of their indie/alt predecessors and blending it into something that’s fresh.
Between them, LIINES and producer Paul Tippler (known for his work with indie luminaries such as Elastica, Idlewild and Stereolab) have created a sound combining riot grrrl disquiet, post-punk gloom and new-wave urgency. Despite losing a bassist (Steph Angel now replaced with Tamsin Middleton), the trio have crafted a debut that promises to be the pulsating start, rather than the end, of LIINES. A truly impressive debut from the Manchester trio.
Stop-Start is out now via Reckless Yes Records.