Review: Better Than Mending – Desire Lines

Cathartic emotional aggression. As sells go, that’s a good one. It applies to the new EP from Bristol’s Better Than Mending, their second, and it fits their post-hardcore sound like a comfortable pair of socks.

Desire Lines is the follow-up to 2017’s Uprooted and claims darker, more doomy territory. Its five tracks create a subtle friction between open space and oppressive closeness, a contrast used to some effect within each song.

Opener ‘Seventh Circle’ builds from sparse to heavy and on to something pacier, topped throughout by varied vocals and characterised by a kind of restrained intensity.

The second song is ‘Provider’, the lead single, which leans, unabashed, on the influence of classic post-hardcore – quietly aggressive, yet thoughtful and refined.

‘Unearthed’ is a band in the pocket, delivering choppy riffs in a stop-start set of rhythms that are sometimes pleasingly difficult to grasp. ‘Still’, the fourth song, is less about swerving predictability and more intent on packing a punch.

Desire Lines concludes with ‘An Epilogue’, briefly a sonic departure from the rest but ultimately the song with the most arresting guitar work, the best vocal performance and the EP’s peak in terms of the construction of soundscapes

That’s a skill Better Than Mending wear on their sleeves and Desire Lines ends on its most convincing example. It’s a suggestion, perhaps, that there’s more to come in the future.

Desire Lines is out now. Better Than Mending’s co-headline tour with Glaston hits Leamington Spa’s Big Cat Coma on February 13th.

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Chris Nee