Based around Reading, Juliet and the Raging Romeos are a group who have been gigging since 2015, primarily around their hometown and the Oxford area. The four-piece cite bands such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Bikini Kill as key influences. While these overtones, peppered with a good deal of post-punk spikiness do shine through, there is also an ear for somewhat poppier melodies at work. Second Chance is a four-track EP which succeeds in bringing together four tracks that hold loosely hold together as a unit. Not that there is a lack of coherence as such but all the songs are quite varied; certainly better than listening to four variations on the same riff.
Eponymous track Second Chance opens with an almost pleading insistence that ‘I don’t want to fuck up any more, I’ve done that many, times many times before.’ The almost conversational statements of the verse are underpinned with a downbeat guitar part. This contrasts well with the surf-influenced lead guitar line that brings in the more powerful aspects of the chorus. The differentiation between more subdued verse and somewhat thrashy garage rock sections is a simple tactic well deployed. So too are the lyrics direct, punchy and memorable within a couple of listens.
“Madness” opens up with tapped drums as a fuzzy wall of is built up. There’s a slightly lo-fi scuzzy feel to this track. When partnered with an almost groovy post-punk addition of strung out notes the song takes on a discordant tone, in keeping with its subject matter. The increasingly urgent vocals are layered over frenetic interludes which retain a deliberate feedback heavy bagginess. The drum rolls become a little wilder and the guitars feel more spaced out without ever losing shape completely. This is a compelling track that channels a charmingly shambolic air of Siouxsie and the Banshees.
“Why Won’t You Look At Me” is a track that once again effectively utilises an introductory drum part. However, the feel is much lighter and upbeat than the preceding tracks. The riff even feels like a slightly heavier nod towards mid-‘90s hit “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. An association that is further encouraged by the slight similarity in the beat. The overly saccharine pop aesthetic is quickly dispelled with the jarring transition to the chorus line. Syncopated drums and the desperate plea of “why won’t you look at me?” break up the otherwise lighter aspects of the song. It as an effective juxtaposition. Bar the increasingly exasperated chorus line, this could almost be a Britpop track, which is no bad thing in my book.
The somewhat rough-edged jangly instrumentation is revisited in the final track “Riot”, which has a lead male vocal, while Juliet takes backing duties. The song has an alt-folky feel to it, with guitars that buzz along under a fairly simple rhythm. That said there is space made for a neatly executed lead guitar part. There is a breakdown to largely vocals drums and guitar stabs which adds some colour. Finally, the song ends in a suitably noisy crescendo of increasingly fast guitars. This is a number which feels as if it draws quite heavily on the lighter end of grunge, with a trace of The Vaselines in the overall sound. “Riot” rounds off the Second Chance EP in a suitably upbeat fashion demonstrative of the band’s range.