Although not apparently marketed as such, (Townsend Records call it a “brand new album”) ‘Sharpen Up The Knives’ is effectively a “best of” compilation. From this evidence it has to be said Puressence were fond of conjuring up an almighty racket too. It’s testament to their USP, frontman James Mudriczki’s lungs, that he could even make himself heard above the huge noise from his bandmates.
No less than seven tracks are lifted from second album ‘Only Forever’ including the first six songs from the album. There’s a distinct over-reliance of strings on some of these radio-friendly offerings but it’s hard not to be moved by the emotive key change on ‘It Doesn’t Matter Anymore’, the superb dynamics to ‘Never Be The Same Again’ and evergreen single ‘This Feeling’.
With album number three ‘Planet Helpless’ represented by just three tracks and zero contributions from their last album, there’s a sense that their popularity has waned over the years. However, ‘Walking Dead’ and ‘How Does It Feel?’ demonstrate a progression from Brit-rock in to slicker electronic production and mariachi trumpets respectively. There is also clearly life in the band yet as emphatically proved by the unusually sparse intro for newnumber ‘Raise Me To The Ground’; the perfect showcase for Mudriczki’s vibrato and a beautiful song to boot.
Yet the main criticism to be directed at this compilation is that it doesn’t really reveal the band’s subtler side. Excellent early songs such as ‘Understanding’, ‘Near Distance’ or even ‘Casting Lazy Shadows’ would have added different shades to the punchier fare that is largely prevalent here. All things considered though, ‘Sharpen Up The Knives’ serves as a reasonable introduction to the band, if it’s the anthems and live favourites you’re after.
Geneva, The Open