While it hasn’t been long since their debut EP ‘Apartments’ was released, Belfast rockers Hit The B Button! have returned with their follow-up, ‘To Water On Mars’.

The biggest difference between ‘To Water On Mars’ and ‘Apartments’ is that Hit The B Button! have abandoned the quirky video game noises in favor of more conventional instrumentation. It’s kind of like ‘Apartments’ was an eccentric guy, and ‘To Water on Mars’ is him on sedatives – you still like him, but he was much better craic before.

Opener Crushed features dreamy guitars, a thumping rhythm section and a climactic final 90 seconds of post punky goodness. It’s a song that someone manages to pull of changing styles multiple times throughout; it starts as fairly standard indie rock but slowly burns its way into something far bigger than it seemed to be initially.

Unfortunately, what lies between the energetic start and the explosive ending are two hugely bland songs. Nothing of note happens during either and by the time they end, it’s easy to forget that they ever even happened. She’s Always Blooming is the better of the two but it feels like an acoustic take on it would have made it shine as a song.

The foreboding feeling It’s Starting to Get Dark Andy  features some impressive guitar noodling and an octave laden bassline that give that lightens the song with a funky vibe. Of the quartet of tracks shown on the EP, this is the only one that really shines the whole way through. Vocally, it’s the only track where Stuart Ledgerwood really sounds confident and the grungy breakdown in the middle section is the ballsiest they get throughout the entire EP.

Shedding the chiptune and the video game influenced tracks seen on ‘Apartments’ has taken much of the initial appeal drawn by Hit The B Button! ‘To Water On Mars’ features four tracks that are far from bad, but that just feature sprinklings of genius rather than being memorable. The ending to Crushed shows off an incredible ability to play punchy post rock style riffs, but this isn’t utilised elsewhere and it’s a genuine shame because if it had been used more, it could have been a completely different EP.

For Hit The B Button!, it’s still early days. Releasing two EPs within a year that are both vastly different is testament to how well the band play together and the range of different styles that the band can execute. This time around though, they just haven’t managed to hit the mark and ‘To Water On Mars’ will live out its days as a missed opportunity.