What is it about the seaside town of Teignmouth in Devon that seems to have inspired so much musical creativity over the past few years? First, there was local boys Muse, who did the town proud by taking over the world with their epic space-rock anthems. Then, London-based solo artist Patrick Wolf wrote a song about Teignmouth, which was named after it and included on his 2005 album ‘Wind in the Wires’. Now, another Teignmouth group called the Quails are going for gold with their second album ‘Master of Imperfection’. This is the band’s first release since their biggest gig to date, supporting their aforementioned hometown buddies at the widely-publicised homecoming shows last September.
Upon looking at a picture of the suited and booted four-piece on the band’s website, you would be forgiven for expecting something akin to the likes of indie-pop lightweights Keane and Coldplay. However, although certain elements of the Quails’ music are rather Keane-ish in the way that they use vocal melodies and guitar-based soft rock, they also have an unmistakable hard rock feel about them as well. Subtly thrown in amongst the gentler tunes are a number of big guitar riffs that keep the album alive when it occasionally risks disappearing into indie music obscurity. There’s even the odd heavy metal wail from singer Dan Steer.
The album dives straight into familiar but enjoyable rock territory with opening track ‘Comes with Devil’, which includes an uplifting and catchy chorus that should help to get the mosh-pits bouncing this summer. Steer’s vocals initially appear reminiscent of the Arctics’ Alex Turner, but later in the album they become more comparable to Luke Pritchard of the Kooks.
The style in which the Quails write songs in a kind of quiet-heavy-quiet-heavy fashion may suggest similarities to Muse themselves. However, there is less of that progressive sound and the album follows more of a straightforward alternative rock route. The band also try to take the occasional detour, particularly on ‘This Town’ (another Teignmouth song?), which features a reggae verse complete with organ and dub-style echoes.
‘Master of Imperfection’ is a pretty decent attempt at a second album for a band that is relatively unheard of outside Devon. Occasionally, the Quails allow themselves to be influenced a bit too much by other bands, but the heavy riffs and use of other styles mixes things up nicely enough to make it sound refreshing. The songs are certainly good enough for the band to achieve their own following and to get them on a few festival bills in the near future.