Start the Virago was formed back in 2007 as a solo project for West Yorkshire guitarist James Brickles. The band’s demo ‘Re-start the Virago’, released in 2008, got a revised launch on June 12th 2014, featuring the eleven primary tracks along with new addition ‘Time is a Great Healer’, not featured on the original demo. The digital download also provides a bonus song titled ‘Monster’.
The album explores a vast total of genre, covering instances of punk rock to grunge, primarily emphasising on alternative roots. Starting with ‘Giving Me’, which demonstrates fast choruses full of energy and excitement. ‘Life is a 5 Letter Word’ brings forth a riff that takes influence from the grunge years from the early 90’s. The opening thirty seconds brings back fond memories from the likes of Nirvana and Alice in Chains, which then evolves into a regular balance of punk and alternative rock that seems to be evident throughout the duration of the album.
The aggression picks up when it comes round to ‘I Hate You’, a track that calls out a likeness to 90’s Green Day. This aggression is then continued into the following song titled ‘Bad Friend’ which initiates with a steady opening that detects similarities to AFI guitars and vocals. The song then rapidly ascends back into the familiar rage that was evident in the previous track, with lyrics such as “You’re in my face, do you know how stupid you are? You always take things too far.”
Songs like ‘Reincarnate’ or ‘Who You Really Are’ slows down the pace of the album, with steady chord progressions and softer vocals. ‘Reincarnate’ incorporates a clean guitar riff collaborating with acoustic sounds that echoes the vocals. These tracks even summon a resemblance to some slow paced R.E.M. tracks, with a melancholic tone.
It’s clear this solo project has a lot of influences spanning across various genres, particularly from the 90’s and it’s interesting to see these themes incorporated into the diverse album. There’s a lot of potential for growth here, the album itself easily becomes more and more engrossing with further listens. It’ll be exciting to see where the band will go in the future.
Stream/purchase the album here on bandcamp.