Credit where it's due for Big Scary Monsters' continued commitment to label diversity - that Chariots rub their bloody punk rock shoulders against Itch's pointed elbows and angular indie rock during this compilation's opening brace is commendable. However, such a policy does lead to a rather unwieldy overall listen, and a lengthy fade out at the end of the former act's 'Friends Forever' does upset the rhythm of this 14-track sampler at the very outset. Shame, but if the absolute truth's told, few people are going to ingest this in a single sitting, instead returning to its buffet of delights on a number of occasions, each time dipping into a treat anew.
And what treats are there? The aforementioned's efforts are strong, Itch's gently meandering 'Do You Know What Fear Is?' a personal highlight from their Well, Well, Well... album, released earlier this year. If you're unfamiliar, friendly comparisons can be made to both Braid and Bear Vs Shark. The Remarkable Rocket's sweet acoustic sounds clash abrasively against the bands that bookend their 'Spaceships', but such a juxtaposition only raises their profile. The song's perhaps a little too emo for hardened listeners, drawn to this by the presence of Chariots and Sparks, Lights And Flames, but that's what the skip button's for, right?
The Campaign For Real Time, featuring former members of Garrison, add an unexpected 80s edge to a record with nine of its ten toes firmly dipped into the pond of the here and now; 'Something Is Wrong' is both darkly menacing and despicably moreish. Tracks from Jeniferever and Written From Negative are obvious standouts - the former crafting towering progressive-rock pinnacles from fairy dust and moon beams under an endlessly aureate sky, the latter fusing dance-friendly beats with the North Eastern post-punk squall favoured by This Aint Vegas - but surprises are here too. Jarius' 'Sabina In The Deceiving Breeze' is a gorgeous, lovingly produced trip into fertile post-something pastures - you wouldn't call it post-hardcore, but it's hardly post-rock in any conventional sense. It's perhaps what The Murder Of Rosa Luxemburg would have sounded like had they not ventured so far into jazzy Joan Of Arc territory once they'd ditched the kiddie screamo. Good, anyway. Days Ago and Secondsmile also make notable contributions.
It'd be foolish to list every band on this compilation - as well as taking far too long - but know this: there is something for everyone on this compilation, and as far as label samplers go you'd be hard pushed to find another showcasing such rich diversity. As a coherent piece it doesn't work, but once broken into its core components, All The Better... becomes a highly recommended release. It probably only costs a few quid, too.
8Mike Diver's Score