This Forty Four Hours article was written by Ben Kendall, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse. Header image by Ashley Bird.
“Schizoid alternative pop rock” is how Manchester-based band Forty Four Hours describe their unique brand of rock and roll, which couldn’t fit better in any other combination of four words.
‘Only Just Holding On’ is the band’s debut EP, and to say Forty Four Hours don’t clearly fit into a specific genre of rock music is an understatement. The sound is a swirling cocktail of pop-rock oriented song-writing. Added to this are heavy doses of alternative rock, funk rock, dance/electronic music, and a dash of their home-made beverage of singer Joe Holden’s peculiar vocal tone; in which immediately after the first sip, we are greeted with something different and fascinating.
‘Hold Out’ opens the EP, with low-octave piano work and incredibly simple but funky guitar riffs, creating an unusual sound to the indie landscape which only attracts you from the get-go. Leading into the choruses, the guitar suddenly transitions from groove to raw power with hammered chords, and these transitions resonate throughout the album, showcasing guitarist (twin to Joe) Alex Holden’s ability to inflict emotion into his guitar riffs. Whether it’s groove to make you move, power to pump you up, or softer melodies to create more focus on contemplation, Forty Four Hours skilfully mould a mixture of many moods in this short EP, with the knowledge of how to pull off each one agreeably.
Second track ‘Difficult’ further shines the spotlight on the guitar work with over-dubbed funky and energetic riffs, whilst still putting focus on the catchy pop-rock formula for a jump-inducing tune that will make all viewers at their shows dance along willingly. ‘Pressure & Sleep’ follows, with a darker guitar and piano melody, immediately putting your jumping-around to a halt with the introspective lyrics of Joe Holden, though his vocals can be hard to understand at times, it doesn’t take away from the depth and meaning of what he puts into the songs.
The main highlight of the EP is how the band are aware of how to gradually build the dynamics and the emotional capacity of the songs. Despite their song-writing centred primarily around pop-rock arrangements, Forty Four Hours stray away from 2-3 minute songs with the same verse-chorus structure, in favour for emphasis on the lyrical content of their songs, pushing the mental states of the songs to the forefront to deliver a compelling listen.
Final song ‘The Time And The Place’ is unfortunately easily forgettable after the first listen. It sounds unsure of itself as to where it stands, it has funky elements of ‘Hold Out’, dance-rock of ‘Difficult’ and singular bits to the song here and there, but sounds more like a mess of all of these than a clear, structured song, as opposed to the previous three songs that are certain of where they stand.
However on all tracks, the drumming work is nothing short of noteworthy. Drummer Alix Foden generates distinctive, and sometimes slightly off-beat, drum tracks, full of force and hooks, which boost the overall quality of the tracks by a significant amount, which can often be over-looked by other bands, underestimating the grand effect that more interesting drumming can have in their sound.
The range of dynamics and diversity these four tracks contain make ‘Only Just Holding On’ a listen unheard of, and it won’t be long until people catch on to Forty Four Hours’ talent and start grooving along…