Rock music talking about deep and dark themes hasn’t been a mainstay in the charts for a while, but with 2022’s ‘Reeling’ The Mysterines were able to get a top 10 album by doing so.

They merge influences from grunge to Billie Holiday and Betty Davis to create a sound like no other. Consisting of primary songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Lia Metcalfe, bassist George Favager, guitarist Callum Thompson and drummer Paul Crilly, the band all (like me) come from Liverpool. Recently coming off a tour with Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes as well as last summer playing stadiums with the Arctic Monkeys in which they didn’t look out of place.

“Afraid of Tomorrows” is a new beast all together with both singles ‘Sink ya Teeth’ and ‘Stray’ making the BBC 6Music A-list and B-List respectively as well as sounding like arena fillers. Produced by (Grammy award winning) John Congleton in LA, ‘Afraid of Tomorrows’ shows a maturity and progression touching on harsher themes with Lia saying “Afraid of Tomorrows is a mirror where you find you’re nothing but a formless being, one made from celestial constellations- of traumas, of the old and new, mistakes, addiction, fear and happiness, loneliness, but ultimately a desire for life and the fight to keep living. It’s a collage of what’s been lost and of love unbounded.”

Having been a fan of The Mysterines since 2020’s ‘Love’s not enough’ EP which resulted in the pre ordering of ‘Reeling’ on vinyl and a band signed poster on my wall, ‘Reeling’ was on heavy rotation for months which didn’t get the love to the extent it should of.  Whereas ‘Afraid of tomorrows’ should get that with the work the band has churned in and the ability they have always inhabited coming to the forefront.

‘The Last Dance’ creates a sense of solitude and a want with the drum simple but provides a sense of doom at the pit of the stomach. Lyrically touching themes of loneliness with the likes of “If only you’d take my hand” and “Another freak show” augments these themes. Vocally strong having a hold over the audience keeping them under her trance which the backing vocals work well allowing Lia to shine. The guitar transcends through the song and the bass pulls it all together. The ending whispers create an eerie effect.

‘Stray’ was the first single off the album and pick up where they left off on the last album but making it stronger. Lyrically and vocally venomous spitting at what seems to be a previous lover trying to pull you back in. The distortion of guitars creates a feeling of being unsure which the vocals captivate whilst the rhythm keeps tight allowing them to do this.

The theme of time is persistent throughout especially in ‘Another, Another, another” with the lyrics mentioning clocks and the beat sounding like a clock ticking which is hinted with the lyric “The clock is only ticking if you’re listening.” All the musician’s work together to create a sense of time running out with backing vocals sounding like they’re in the past. The guitars sound like they are being dragged away whilst the bass and drums try to push through.

The effects used on the vocals of ‘Tired animal’ create a sense of doom which the rhythm system takes under its wing catapulting it. The guitars navigate throughout like a guiding light similarly to Jerry Cantrell. The influence of grunge is evident sounding like it would belong on ‘Dirt’ by AIC.

‘Jesse you’re a superstar” creates a sense of isolation which lyrically links to a relationship. The idea of wanting to give everything to someone but not getting it back or a toxicity is evident to me anyway. The musicianship highlights this as the vocals and backing absorb each other. The timing between the drumbeats creates that sense of isolation.

The use of a semi-acoustic ballad in ‘Hawkmoon’ shows the musicianship of Lia who vocally carries the song which doesn’t need any support however, the transition from just her and the acoustic to the whole band shows the tightness of the band dropping in without a hitch and shows as musicians individually how good they are. The radio-like recording sound straight out of Fallout.

The second single ‘Sink ya teeth’ lyrically talks of outgrowing a relationship but not being able to get out. This is a return to what the band was doing with ‘Love’s not enough’. The bass and guitars merge together engulfing everything around it which the drums are beating to get out.

‘Junkyard angel’ vocals howl filling the space the drums leave as they sound hollower compared to how they do normally. The guitars and bass blend together allowing the vocals to stand solo and at the forefront.

‘Goodbye sunshine’ has guitars that sound like a radio transmission which is helped by the beep which occurs frequently. Lyrics talking about uncertainty and again being vocally immaculate. The break before the last chorus allows the listener to take in everything.

The fingerpicking of the acoustic guitar on ‘Inside a matchbox’ gives a Latin like feeling whilst the drum machine gives a rap based one. The effect of both gives a sense of isolation which the vocals help expands.

‘So Long’ sounds like it belongs on ‘Dogrel’ by Fontaines DC with the poetic delivery Lia takes. The build up of the drums, bass and guitars which guides the vocals before ceasing then returning shows a stylistic choice which presents the theme of isolation yet again.

The titular track takes a folk like form with the main vocals and backing vocals duetting and complementing each other whilst the guitar tone radiates a warmth that Johnny Cash could create. This shows a different aspect of the band which they hadn’t yet explored.

‘Afraid of Tomorrows’ is a standout album taking what ‘Reeling’ did beautifully but pushing it further. As a band, they sound tighter than ever, each member being a master in their field.  I find myself being drawn towards female vocalists and Lia Metcalfe is no different, she can show any emotion being delicate but harsh when needed. A personal favourite is ‘Hawkmoon’ which shows the band in all their glory. An album of the year contender for sure and nothing can stop the band if they carry on with this momentum.

The Mysterines: Afraid of Tomorrows – Out 7th June 2024 (Fiction Records)

Mysterines – Stray (