Black and White to Gold is a punchy record full of sing along choruses backed by powerful and well-produced guitars, strings and drums. The album’s energy shifts from positive to negative frequently but always maintains a consistently high intensity, with Rag n Bone Men in particular showcasing the band’s ability to make bleakness somehow both tense and enjoyable.
States of Emotion are an Essex based four-piece that were going places a few years back but made an unlucky signing to a label that shelved their music for years. During this time they worked and reworked their material whilst trying to get their label to market them, but saw little cooperation. As time passed, they lost band members and hope until they were able to leave their label and release their music via their own label.
Every song on the record pushes unrelentingly towards the chorus and in doing so there isn’t much lyrical diversity across the album. The band steers into the skid though and moves the focus away from intricate lyrics to powerful vocal delivery and polished production. The anthemic nature of the album draws similarities with early Coldplay, U2, and Noughties indie disco hits with She Cuts Shapes being the strongest example of this simple anthemic strength.
Title track Black and White to Gold showcases their vocal strength, in equal measure but entirely different manner to minimalist track Slowly, and uses strings confidently to add depth and punctuate moments on the track similar to Biffy Clyro’s Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies.
To help promote the album, the band released 5 tracks as a free EP led by the single Rag n Bone Men. This song is quite dissimilar to the rest of the album, departing from the crescendos of layered vocals, strings and guitars for a smaller, trip hop inspired sound. As part of the album, Rag n Bone Men is a well-placed reprieve, allowing it to build again starting with the following song Slowly. As a single however, the track doesn’t particularly represent the sound or musical strengths of States of Emotion and may do the band a disservice in this regard.
Overall, this is a fun record. It doesn’t tread any new ground, but it’s an extremely polished sing-and-dancer that belongs perfectly in either clubs, intimate gig venues or on summer festival stages. Hopefully this record is successful enough to see what a second States of Emotion album would sound like.