Dublin based outfit Bouts have been creating quite a stir on the local music scene since the release of their debut EP in late 2011. Their brand of nineties inspired indie guitar rock has won them some high profile admirers - BBC Radio 6 DJ Lauren Laverne is reportedly a fan while prestigious support slots with the likes of Smiths legendary guitarist Johnny Marr at his recent Dublin gig is an indication that this is a band on the rise.
Debut album Nothing Good Gets Away builds on the promise of their early recordings in absorbing some of the very best influences from the nineties indie scene. There are shades of the slacker charm of bands like Pavement and Dinosaur Jnr on tracks like 'Atomisation' but the sharply pointed melodic guitar pop of 'Novelty' and '6.0' betrays a band with the talent to outgrow the indie ghetto pretty quickly.
Guitarist Colin Boyle bends and squeezes some impressively gnarly guitar shapes on 'Laugh Along', drawing favourable comparison to Pixies axe man Joey Santiago. The guitar work is frequently impressive across these ten tracks, never more so than on closer 'Moonraker', with its memorably skewed picked guitar riff anchoring a song that resists the urge to go for the obvious big finale.
Vocalist Barry Bracken's breathy, playful delivery gives these songs a youthful appeal and it is not difficult to envisage Bouts leapfrogging the competition to join the Delorentos as Ireland's prime exponents of indie guitar rock.
'Nothing Good Gets Away' is an exciting first offering from a band that, with the right breaks, could have a big future. For now, their assimilation of some of the best influences from the grunge/noise pop scene of the nineties has a freshness and zeal that makes them stand out from the pack. Their challenge going forward will be to maintain that youthful exuberance while moving towards establishing an identity that is uniquely their own.
Bouts are a band to watch - this could be the start of something worth getting excited about.
Review by Paul Page