By Tony Allen
A mere four songs into new Norwich rock outfit Against All Odds’ slot, supporting The High Points at Bedfords Crypt, singer Georgi Ball stops. She looks out onto the packed room, thanking everyone for coming and pointing out that the appearance is in aid of the band’s first EP release.
This spoken interjection was the pivot upon which the show turned. What had, up until that point, been a good performance then exploded into life, taking it up a notch to superb. The set contained all four EP tracks interspersed with a handful of covers (including a particularly fine rendition of Nirvana’s ‘Heart Shaped Box’) and two previously unheard songs which I’ll return to later.
As for the self-titled EP, its four numbers are all written and recorded by the young band, aged between sixteen and twenty-one: Ball (vocals, additional guitar on some tracks); Simon Richardson (lead guitar); Robbie Tribe (bass) and Jacob Loveday (drums). On record as live, many of the songs are strongly led by Tribe, inflected with Richardson’s guitar parts and underpinned by Loveday’s at-times nuanced beats. The EP was produced by Jack Murphy at Crystal Sound Studios, who should be credited for giving it a professional sheen.
‘Opener Stand Off’ begins with a Tribe bassline, leading into some smart guitar work from Richardson which guides the impatient track. We hear about moving on and making progress – quite apt for the band’s debut – in which their youthful enthusiasm abounds. A promising start.
The second single to be released online, the melancholic ‘Broken Homes’, is an acoustic guitar driven ballad and the highlight of their EP, not only in the studio but also live. It is a marked change from the first track but a worthwhile one. Ball’s superbly tender voice comes through particularly well on the recorded version. The seventeen-year-old sings on the choruses: “We live in broken homes/We think that it’s all our fault… I can’t live in this broken home/I thought it was all my fault.”
First single ‘Changing’, Against All Odds’ de facto signature song, contains the EP’s strongest riff. On top of buzzing reverb, Ball sings vividly of the turmoil and self-doubt following a betrayal, but ultimately flips the mood to one of triumph. This is perhaps, alongside ‘Stand Off’, the most “rocky” song on the album.
Richardson’s innovative riffing and guitar effects (evidenced on stage by his monstrous pedal board) continue on the final song ‘Let Down’. Although the weakest lyrically, this track still provides Ball a vocal workout and translated very well to the packed sweatbox of the Crypt. ‘Let Down’, too, sees some of Loveday’s best drumming on the record, although his performance is faultless throughout.
Now, I don’t know whether it’s possible for a band to outdo themselves at their own EP launch, but if it is, then Against All Odds somehow managed it. Because the two new, as yet untitled, songs fresh from the lyricist’s notebook were amazing. Strategically placed towards the end of the set, the two tracks were the funkiest and most memorable tunes of the night. They have the potential, when honed properly, to be even better than the EP tracks.
After their full debut supporting Atlas at Gringos last month and the success of their second proper gig, it’s not yet known whether another EP will follow, or a full length album. Either way, Against All Odds are a band well worth keeping tabs on in the future.
You can catch Against All Odds on Sunday 26th March, 7pm, at the B2 venue, opening for Altered Sky.
If you want to keep up to date, they can also be found on:
Image by Becki Ball. From left: Richardson; Loveday (obscured); Ball; Tribe.