Last week, Sam Gillbanks – who goes strictly as Gillbanks – released his debut album, Lived-In. We had previewed his single, “Loosen Up” on our March 20th Weekend Showcase, and many of the comments stated then apply to the album as a whole.

Lived-In is an 11-track album that is at times brilliant and infectious, spanning indie- and more mainstream rock. This combination, and one could say opposing forces, is reflected throughout the album. The mainstream element begins with Gillbanks’ voice, which is obviously no fault of his. It echoes the scratchy voice of Chris Martin of Coldplay fame. Many of the songs on Lived-In also seem to be inspired by pre-X&Y Coldplay (when the band was at its creative height). Tracks like the lead single “Loosen Up”, “Start Again”, and “Fear” are brooding rock songs that are also atmospheric and moving. They are songs that move you emotionally as oppose to physically, much like Coldplay’s brilliant “Yellow”.

The entire album, though, isn’t an homage to the London band. On songs like “A Lonely Beast”; the terrific “Tiffany”, which is a spatial rocker; the awesome, pulsating “Nerve”; and the building rock track “Anxious?”, there’s a bit of A Place to Bury Strangers and ’90s-era alternative rock, in particular My Bloody Valentine. Like these bands, Gillbanks is able to make rock music sound almost ethereal and dreamy by building the track slowly before its furious ending. In addition, Gillbanks uses just enough distortion to amplify the mood of the song.

If I had one thing to nitpick, it would be that I would like to see a bit more variety across the album, particularly to hear Gillbanks really let loose on a track or two. There’s no questioning, however, that he’s a young musician with a tremendous future. In which direction direction he heads to – whether more towards rock, indie rock, or possibly even blues rock – will be the question. The talent is there; it’s only a matter of more experience and fine-tuning his craft before Gillbanks becomes a household name.

Lived-In can be purchased on Bandcamp (UK) and iTunes.

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