Inspired by the expanse of the sea, Oxford based Listing Ships’ seven track EP is an entertaining if not altogether essential bag of nautically themed instrumental rock. Whilst they may lay claim to this most niche of markets, there’s not a huge amount on show here aside from the song titles and the occasional sample of creaking masts, that would suggest this is anything more than a superficial step.
Their strongest track on the EP, ‘The 100 Gun Ship’, unfortunately sets the standard perhaps a little too high for the remainder to match. Bar the nine minute ambiance of the last song, the band do however come close on several occasions. The metallic throng of ‘All Aboard The Andrea Doria’ is a genuine thrill, yet choosing like they do on the opening track to reign it all in at the moment when they ought to just let their music flow, indicate a band that doesn’t quite feel at home letting their self-perpetuated chaos reign.
There are echoes of Explosion In The Sky on the meandering ‘Melusine Romance’, a subtler, gentler weave of intricate guitars that mimic but never better that of the established Texans. The raging ‘Equus Ager’ allow the drums to temporarily take the reigns on their ride into the distance, sandwiching this with walls of noise that are sadly put to rest all too soon. ‘Then Venice Sank’ is the weakest of the bunch, its krautish swagger and dated formula at odds with the ambitions of the band - bigger and better is seemingly still a little way off.
At times, Listing Ships would benefit from having an extra guitarist to help them strengthen their sound - songs like the stuttering and rather limp ‘Skipper’s Daughter’ would surely benefit from an additional layer of noise in its opening couple of minutes. To their credit, there are moments that the band are thoroughly entertaining, in particular during the EPs more melodious first half. However, their self restraint is the only thing that’s stopping them becoming a force to equal their post-whatever peers.