The devil's playthings, you say?
Rampaging out of a garage in South Wales come Question the Mark, no-nonsense punk rock seemingly drawn straight from the veins of Avail. Teaming with producer Todd Campbell, the four-piece set out to generate an album that thrusts pounding basslines together with hammering guitars, supported by dense drums and layered with assertive vocals.
The quartet may well have divided their debut into ten rowdy tracks, full to the brim with vocals bubbling with attitude, but it may as well have been one continuous half-hour presentation. Although that does imply an undeniable sense of continuity and belonging, it also indicates the indistinctiveness of the whole work. Songs like 'Scenery' and 'If She Was a President, She'd Be Babe-raham Lincoln' seem to have both been constructed from identical blueprints and even the amusing reference to 90s cult favourite film 'Wayne's World' isn't enough to offer redemption. 'Growing Old' touches on fresh alternative harmony and thankfully prevents the album from becoming stale. Although there seem to be glimpses of ephemeral hope in 'Choices' and '[dot]Gov[dot]UK', tracks such as 'Dark Roads' and 'The Spark Has Gone' sound little more than polished versions of tunes written by amateur teenagers in their first punk rock band, only perhaps with a little more lyrical maturity.
Frontman Tim Davies' vocals display superb character, wonderfully suited to the punk styling of the band. However, although their tracks are melodically-inclined, Davies' singing is not always tuned to perfection due to the over-emphasis on spirit. Admittedly, it is a difficult balancing act, but this album is sadly plagued by various incidents that steadily begin to grate on the ears. There is also not a huge degree of variety experimented with here; the same few instrumental tones are employed excessively and each of the ten songs are constructed with uninspiring similarity.
'Idle Hands' is certainly one of those albums that will only be of interest to a select audience, alienating and repelling any fans of mainstream genres and attracting only those with a passion for raw, uncomplicated punk. Question the Mark come away as nothing more than your typical garage punk band and despite wanting to break out of their small Welsh village, it seems their neighbours are going to have to put up with them for a while longer.