• Charlotte Hardman

LOUDER REVIEWS: 'Sovereign' - Coast to Coast

Everything we know is changing right now. Things that were once familiar are now altered, as if we are experiencing them through a darkly warped lens, throwing the whole world- and our lives- off kilter. So, it seems only fitting that Birmingham-based emo-rockers Coast to Coast have chosen now to revisit some of their previously released tracks - alongside some wonderful new additions – and give them a softer, acoustic makeover on their new EP, 'Sovereign'. And what is revealed is something truly beautiful.

Title track, ‘Sovereign’, is a new addition to the throng, yet it more than stands up against those tracks that the band’s fanbase have already fallen in love with. Ethereal xylophone notes burst like a blooming flower into a delectably warm acoustic guitar that flows with an absent-minded melancholy. Vocally, comparisons to indie giant Sam Fender are undeniable, though the content of the lyrics themselves are deeply personal and profoundly unique. Vocalist Keiran Hyland explains: "It’s about how you see other people being so naturally positive and social, hence the lyrics, "the words roll from your tongue I came to ask you, tell me what it’s like on the other side". It’s about feeling as if you’re missing out on what other people are doing because of your own struggles and problems. As the caramel rich indie despondency fades back down into the gloom as though sinking beneath the waves, you have to admit that ‘Sovereign’ is a small gem of a track that washes over you on first listen, so you barely even notice its message burying itself deep into your skin.

Soft reverb lays over the guitar of ‘Be Kind’ in waves. There is a deep softness to the track, as if you could delve inside and get lost in its silky, smooth depths, while the slight upswing into the chorus is enough to draw a crowd of invisible lighters into the air. Coast to Coast perfectly strike the balance between crafting a track with a folky, heady warmth without it becoming saccharine and feeling at all lacklustre- which is no mean feat! Glimmering into life, the melody of ‘The Sun Is Dim’ feels so delicate it sounds on the brink of shattering entirely. Packed with palpable dejection, the bridge feels almost translucent with its shivering fragility, to the point where you almost fear that the weight of you hanging on every word could tear it to pieces.

The most solemn and dirge-like track yet falls on the shoulders of ‘Heredity’. The vocals stand almost entirely alone in the opening verse, hand in hand only with isolated chords. Despondent piano notes then come spinning into the mix, rippling like a waterfall through the stripped-back melody. The beat of silence following the bridge is beautifully placed to allow the simple power of the lyrics to hang for one intense moment on the air- this is musical craftsmanship at its most effective. Floating in as balmy as a lullaby comes the final track, ‘Cold Buzz’. Staccato vocals from the end of the first verse are sprinkled throughout, breaking up the low sway of the melody with an effect like a voice on the edge of breaking; with the unanswered rhetorical questions to the song’s subject being carried away, unanswered, on the wind. The rumbling of the snare drum deep in the verses gives the track a sense of finality and stateliness- this is a march towards the inevitable truth that neither of the track’s subjects want to have to meet when it arrives. Straining into the final chorus, the unsullied emotion that fuelled these tracks is self-evident- when all the many layers of guitars and bass are removed, these tracks contain glowing centres of truth within them all.

‘Sovereign’ is an EP you can sink into and lose yourself in- like a meditation which allows you to let these intense emotions wash over you in the most beautiful way, before allowing them to dissipate into the mist. The primary focus of the mainstream emo world may have once been that of dark melodrama and disconcertingly morbid portrayals of reality- yet while you can be forgiven for wanting to indulge in some eyeliner and black hair dye from time to time, the modern emo rock world is removing its mask, and exploring the darkness within as it truly feels. This is powerful stuff, which you’d be seriously remiss to overlook.

'Sovereign' is due for release on April 24th via Fox Records.

Check out the video for the record's title track, 'Sovereign', below:


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