Sonic youth

To say My Vitriol loves its pedal effects is like saying the sun is hot.

The UK quartet gives its reverb pedals as much of a workout as its distortion pedals, and as a result, it produces a sound that’s tender one moment, brutal the next.

My Vitriol’s debut album, Finelines, frames this stormy aesthetic into a tight set. Not content to merely throw 16 songs on a single disc, the band tie everything together with a number of short interludes and instrumentals.

As such, Finelines feels like a single, cohesive work. In less skilled hands, it would have come across as homogenous instead of unified.

While it would have been easy for My Vitriol to hide behind its pedals and attempt to pass it off as art, the band’s songs actually provide a sturdy foundation for its effects processing arsenal.

“Grounded”, “Losing Touch” and “Always: Your Way” sport memorable melodies and blistering fretwork. As the album progresses, the songs get more fluid, until the closing “Under the Wheels” sets Finelines adrift.

Singer Som Wardner thankfully doesn’t affect any of the usual alt-rock vocal clichés — no grunge growl, no Kurt Cobain worshipping. He’s got a nice scream, but he uses it sparingly.

In a way, Wardner almost calls to mind a young Billy Corgan but with a less grating voice. My Vitriol, too, is reminiscent of Gish-era Smashing Pumpkins in the way it doesn’t fear dynamics — rock music is usually loathe to play softly.

Sonically, the band shares more with Japanese rockers mono and Walrus than with the Pumpkins. My Vitriol also gets endlessly compared to My Blood Valentine, but since I never listened to My Bloody Valentine, that comparrison is pretty useless to me.

Regardless, Finelines is a satisfying debut from a band with an incredibly textured sound and the songwriting chops to make it work.