The Decoy are a 3 piece Alt. Rock band from South Wales consisting of Lewis Barber (Guitar/Vocals), Joel Williams (Bass/Vocals) and Luke Blake (Drums/Percussion). Their sound has been described as Biffy meets Reuben meets Incubus meets The Police. Being compared to huge, festival-headlining outfits such as Biffy Clyro could be a burden for some bands, however The Decoy do more than justify these comparisons, with their own quirky individuality thrown in for good measure.
Their new album Avalon follows on from their critically acclaimed EP Parasites, which received praise from Kerrang, Ticketmaster, and many other well-known music/media outlets. This album is The Decoy’s first full-length release. It was produced, mixed, and mastered by Chris Coulter (Arcane Roots, Reuben) and released on July 29 via Ghoulish Records.
The opening track “Black Mountain Radio” instantly grabs your attention. It begins with the crackle of a radio in search of the correct frequency before dropping head first into a vibrant mix. All seems normal until an unconventional chord progression grabs you by the scruff of the neck and thrusts you into a completely different song to the one you were suspecting. The composition is excellent – reverting back to a catchy hook whilst constantly changing the intensity and feel throughout. I can already tell that this album is right down my street!
“Cold” is the second track on this full length release, and a song for which the band released a music video. This one is a bit more formulaic in composition – a definitive riff that keeps returning, and no real drastic change in key or intensity as with the opener. Formulaic is not a bad thing however, but I potentially would have enjoyed some more variation as with “Black Mountain Radio”.
The next track “Elizabeth” sees the return of said frantic variation and packs a lot more punch than your standard “song-named-after-a-girl” kind of tune. The album then gets a dash of pop-rock with “Crazy Nights” before “Kids” hits you with some well-executed and disguised 7/4.
Although starting out soft, “Breathe” intends to lull you into a false sense of security before giving you a quick and hard kick in the balls. There is a certain degree of rawness in the production that really harnesses the energy and harsh nature of the vocals and guitar work in this album. This is no better highlighted than in “Breathe”, where you can hear the vocals given a release from the usual reverberated-restraints of modern music production.
“Habit” brings with it the beautiful guest vocals of Abigail Tough. It reminds me of a heavier and quirkier version of “If It Means A Lot To You” by ADTR – so basically a far improved take on the male/female epic rock ballad style-track. “Meze” follows this; the band taking the foot off the gas pedal for a couple of minutes with some acoustic instrumentation and harmonies aplenty.
“Lion” is a fantastic track, and probably my favourite on the album. Small rhythmic complexities and changes in intensity combined with great musicianship and lyrics provide a true banger! This is just before the final track “Live By The Axe” draws Avalon to a close in a brutal and manic fashion.
As previously mentioned, this is The Decoy’s first LP, and debut albums are always extremely tough, especially after such a well received EP. A full length release is a completely different challenge to an EP – creating enough content to engage a listener whilst trying not to make every track too formulaic and familiar. The Welsh rockers achieve this though, comfortably and successfully.
I really enjoyed listening to Avalon. This is the first that I have heard from The Decoy and I am very impressed by their unique take on Alt. Rock. The musicianship is clearly evident through the compositions and performance throughout the release – good songs executed well. I’ll be keeping an eye on the band as I’m sure this release will propel them forward and deservedly so!
Purchase The Decoy’s Avalon on iTunes here.
Words by Will Kitchener