With a quiver of raucous, anthemic rock EP’s under their belts, alongside a healthy respect gained within the DIY music community, Philly rockers Sheer Mag have finally offered up the full length record we’ve all been waiting for. The question of whether they could maintain their infectious, perfectly crafted melodies for a long player was one I was looking forward to being answered and, thankfully, they came through with tunes to spare on Need To Feel Your Love.
The brawling ‘Meet Me In the Street’ marries driving guitars to a shout-a-long hook and call to action lyrics, digging into their shared punk rock background for inspiration and coming through with the most brashly confrontational song on the album. Their muse is as much the personal as the political, however, as evidenced by the title track ‘Need To Feel Your Love’ where the band shifts from battle-scarred swagger to danceable funk drenched with fuzz as Tina Halladay wrenches the maximum emotion possible from her vocal chords. This shift occurs almost imperceptibly, a testament to the band’s ability to meld different styles to their own personal vision as well as to the production which perfectly suits the group’s temperament.
As with the classic rock whose influence they were on their sleeves, love and loss is just as important an element to their music as the protest sounds of their punk roots. ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ is as of yet the only single and sees them live up to previous Thin Lizzy comparisons, in terms of pure hooks and of Kyle Seely’s spot on guitar work. This carries on into ‘Expect the Bayonet’ with its hypnotic riff and chorus where Halladay’s voice is 100 times more gravel-drenched than Lynott’s, but just as emotive in range. ‘Rank and File’ is almost as chunky a rock song as the album opener while ‘Turn It Up’ is the album’s raucous central point - a guaranteed live favourite already before the album has even heard much airplay. Pump your fists and shout your lungs out…
‘Suffer Me’ kicks off with a funk-laden slice of guitar and bass work which will have the most cider-blasted crusty coming to for long enough to tap their toes and nod their head. The summery funk of ‘Pure Desire’ is layered with grit by Halladay’s vocal, while the sweetly jangling pop of ‘Until You Find The One’ is the gentlest that the band have sounded yet, with follower ‘Milk and Honey’ bringing to mind scenes just as sun drenched – in fact, this whole album is the perfect summer BBQ soundtrack. Where some of the band’s direct punch has been dissipated - by the long play format or simply by changing tastes and focuses - this is made up for in a layered web of sound which has been carefully curated and put together like the best albums always are. This is one to play out in full while sitting back, preferably in an outdoor space, with an unending supply of cold booze at your disposal.