Justin Lockey & Craig Pilbin's debut album as White Belt Yellow Tag is not perhaps the classic that some were hoping for, but it's still a solid and competent effort that holds up with repeated listens.
Methods opens with two of last year's single releases, which is a clever move to allow listeners to familiarise themselves with the songs again. However once 'Remains' and 'Tell Your Friends (It All Worked Out)' have done their job, it becomes apparent that the first seven minutes of the album are by no means showcasing the strongest material on offer here.
The best example of what to expect from Methods can be found throughout 'Ode', strong melodies and a wall of guitars that occasionally give way to a fragile and quieter moment before cranking up the amps again. It's a formula that Doves have thrived on for years, and it's handled here with suitable expertise, which no doubt is thanks to Lockey's impressive CV.
But that's also part of the problem with the album too. While it's not trying to emulate other acts, it does follow a very strict formula that prevents any one song from standing out. The consistency shown can also be seen as a very safe option for a debut album, which should in many ways make a strong statement about a band. Pilbin sums this up on 'Where Echoes Land...' with the line "You're killing time for something new" before he reaches a full falsetto.
Subsequent listens do help songs such as the anthemic 'You're Not Invincible' or 'News' to stick in the memory, The slow burning nature of the album may also help Methods to find a place in the heart of indie fans, but there's a feeling that the crescendo's, piano interludes and various studio polishing techniques that have been employed, don't deliver on the strong live performances the band put in last year.
White Belt Yellow Tag remains a band destined to impress, and Methods is certainly a solid base to start from. Once Lockey and Pilbin expand their horizons to create even more expansive soundscapes their music will be sure to garner more praise and attention.