The record opens with something rather like old school modem noises, hinting at one meaning of the title, which morph into the guitars of the heavy and fuzzy variety, somewhat welcoming us back into the band’s familiar sound with Plugin which is, intentionally, a slightly awkward stop-start affair that, in a way, sets the scene for the album as a whole.
After a great bass-y build, Fuck The Scene kicks in and we are off to the races with a heady mix of alt-rock and grunge which is very 90s without being stuck in nostalgia.
Louder and angrier than the Radio EP version this is an early highlight of the record and has a chorus that’s already a live singalong favourite and shows off what Bobby Battle has brought to the band, never eclipsing frontman Ollie Goddard but backing him up excellently.
Across the album there are plenty of prime rocking moments including previously released single I Don’t Wanna Hold Your Hand, the title track which goes into classic loud-quiet-loud territory, and, one of the records highlights Coco which is as bolshy and lairy as you could want with some curious backwards talking at the beginning and end.
Elsewhere the band reveal something of another side as head in more of a shoegaze direction (possibly, I’ve never quite got my head around what shoegaze actually is) and certainly a more obviously emotionally open direction.
This is first hinted at on previously released single You Are Stuck, Same As You then combines some jagged guitars and distorted vocals with cleaner moments, The Message is rendered rather differently here to its previous appearance on Radio with Ollie taking the lead vocals and creating an almost alt-rock ballad (and I think Tyler Edmonds’ vocals are still present there in the background).
The closing track, Jacob, then takes a major sonic left turn being based around acoustic guitars, piano and even some strings but without losing the same mood and tone of the rest of the album.
As a whole Connected features an exceptionally dense production (thanks to Apocalypse Studios) with layers upon layers of sound making for a lot to take in, if that’s how you want to listen, but it also manages to not feel overwhelming on a more casual listen.
While Connected is certainly more considered than Coastal Fire Dept feel live it captures a great balance of their natural energy with a more produced studio sound.
Also they have transcended the (almost parodic) ‘Grunge From The Vale’ tag they give themselves as this is just great grungy alt-rock and if you just know them from their live shows it’s packed with surprises of a very good kind.