Charlie Simpson is very much Marmite when it comes to the rock world citizens, after leaving poptastic boy band Busted in 2005 with a string of hit albums and singles under his belt, the honour of selling Wembley Arena out 11 times in one year, and being the youngest person to win a Brit Award for a space of time; he concentrated on his first love in Rock quartet Fightstar. This riled a lot of the "true" rock fans who said that he was undeserving of plaudits from the Rock world, but after a fantastic debut E.P and one of the defining first albums of the 21st century so far Charlie and his cronies cemented their place within the teeming British rock scene as one of its top bands.
Fightstar toured relentlessly for three years and in between tours they produced two more hit albums in "One Day Son..." and "Be Human", they even found time to release a CD of B-Sides. They became one of the best British bands on the scene and decided that enough was enough, that they needed a break. So in the summer of 2010 they decided that, bar Sonisphere and a random gig in Wakefield, that they would take the year off. This initially sat well with Charlie, but he soon got bored and jumped back on the recording wagon. Simo signed up to Pledge Music, a website which provided Charlie a route to make some money to record by offering fans unique items to pledge on, for example a private acoustic gig in London, a chance to provide gang vocals on Charlie's solo album and a hand written lyric sheet to one of the songs that he would be releasing (the one we went for), along with an exclusive opportunity to view updates and be the first to listen to his new music. On Christmas Day he released to the fans a five track E.P called When We Were Lions and here is what I think of each track.
When We Were Lions: is a track with haunting verses and a hugely catchy chorus. It is a brilliant opening track, that dictates the tempo for the rest of the E.P. A track that shows of the vocal talent that Charlie has, and is a style of music that he fits into with seemingly effortless ease. He pours emotion into the song, and wears his heart on his sleeve, a characteristic that you can't seem to help but notice throughout this E.P.
If I Hide, Will You Come Looking?: another wonderfully written track, the tempo is a lot more upbeat than its opening counterpart but none of the emotion is lost; Charlie's voice soars through the verses and when the title question is asked in the chorus, you can't help but hope that someone answers him. Lyrically speaking this is a song that paints pictures. "So long to the thunder, you've been hiding up in the clouds now / All your tears have dried up" notes the opening lyric, a line that screams pretentious at the top of its voice, but under the control of Charlie's soothing vocal seems more fitting. A short song, one that ends maybe too soon but a song that invokes a lot of feeling.
The Farmer & His Gun: Lyrically the best track on the E.P, the story weaves in this track is nothing short of wonderful. The message "It's best to lose yourself, before you ever lose your pride" makes you feel good about yourself, and the country influence to this song works so well it's almost scary. It's a track that doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of its friends on the E.P but it is easily one of the best, purely because Charlie knows how to write a song.
Bullet: Initially the realisation that this was a cover annoyed me, especially given that we weren't told that there would be a cover but Charlie really makes this track his own with hauntingly beautiful vocal that makes you wonder why he hasn't put out work like this before. This track, whilst not written by Charlie, makes you wish it was. It is a piece of work that makes you eternally happy that you paid for this.
Lost: Is the track that defines this E.P, the pinnacle of Charlie's writing ability. Musically and lyrically it is a stunning piece of work, elements of Unfamiliar Ceilings and Athea intertwine into something a little bit special. His voice soars and soothes you through near four minutes of pure song writing perfection. This song epitomizes the E.P, it shows off everything that is good about this collection of songs and ends it on such a high.
To sum up, this is a superb piece of work, yes I may be biased because Charlie Simpson is one of my favourite artists, but it doesn't take away from the fact that he proves unquestionably that he can mix it with the best songwriters and may still become the best songwriter of our generation.