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Album Review: Owen Pallett – In Conflict

 
By on Friday, 6th June 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

This review of ‘In Conflict’ was harder than most for me to write. I felt so out of my element. Indeed, with Owen Pallett’s impressive credits like an Oscar nomination for the score to the Spike Jonze film ‘Her’ and arranging for Arcade Fire, I knew that his album would be full of elements and technical virtuosity that would be beyond my simple tastes.

Sure enough, with each ensuing listen I went deeper, heard more and became more lost. I was sure I was experiencing a pretty great musician; I just couldn’t break it all down. But one would expect nothing less than brilliance from the fourth studio full length album from the violinist/arranger. And what did I eventually discover? Music that is both technically beautiful and artistically challenging while remaining accessible to listeners like me without classical training. Pallett presents a series of songs that are varied, layered, complex and interesting on many levels.

Despite Pallett’s clear pedigree, he still possesses the soul of a down to earth musician, ready to mix it up, experiment and occasionally hold onto standard pop sensibilities. A line in ‘The Secret Seven’ even perfectly encapsulates the everyman musician’s humble bread and butter of busking: “I’m out on the street, an open case and a mandolin and with every coin I am born again”. ‘In Conflict’ the LP gives us an intriguing mix of electronics, piano and, of course, strings. The album is bright, complex and varied. This is a musician who knows his craft and can stretch the boundaries of experimentation without sounding gimmicky or contrived. Being a violin player, Pallett has utilized strings instead of many of the more traditional rhythm instrumentation. It lends a unique flavor to the record and goes way beyond a pop album having orchestration added to it, ensuring that the strings are a much more organic part of it.

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Additionally, contributions from Brian Eno add a panache that cannot help but be felt. For me, the standout track on the album was ‘The Sky Behind the Flag’. It starts out a bit choppy with just a touch of the recitative nature of good ’60s musical theatre, but the complexity of this truly wondrous piece develops as it continues on. I admit that I resorted to headphones to absorb all the facets of what was offered. The subtly of the layers and the depth of the soundscape were marvelous and was something one could truly get lost in, a sentiment echoed in the repeated line, “oh I gotta lose control, why can’t I lose control?” The simple reference of himself as the sky that floats behind a flag is both expansively descriptive and reprises the idea of getting lost behind what is easily seen.

The only flaw in an otherwise brilliant album is my own personal preference. The quality and timbre of Pallett’s voice is not my favorite, so while being fascinated and enthralled by the music, the album itself was slightly diminished for me because of that. A stronger voice may have propelled the whole thing to heights beyond comprehension.

8.5/10

‘In Conflict’, Canadian Owen Pallett’s fouth album is out now on Domino Records and Secret City Records. Pallett will be touring the UK and Ireland starting mid-July; for more details, go here or visit his official Web site.

 

Album Review: We Have Band – Movements

 
By on Thursday, 5th June 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

What’s incredibly refreshing about We Have Band is how they have gone about their relatively brief career without flouting and playing on the fact they have a female in their numbers. It’s not a USP, it’s not a gimmick, and instead Dede Wegg-Prosser is an integral cog in the dance-pop soundscapes which the three-piece have created over the past 4 years in their fantastic remixes and albums. Too many times, I’ve seen an act play off the fact a member is sans-Y chromosome and use it as some sort of unique selling point, to set them out from the crowd. We have Band thankfully are and never have been in danger of becoming a member of that crowd.

The Manchester/London based three-piece have instead earned their indie-disco stripes through two extremely accomplished albums and a hand-full of infectious remixes that have become mainstays at club nights across the nation like Propaganda, cementing their place as 21st century indie-disco stalwarts. Their third full-length release ‘Movements’ has them creeping down a similar path – with a funky, synth driven mix of melancholic pop and lively vocally powered tunes making up the bedrock of the record.

What’s most striking on ‘Movements’ is the impact Darren Bancroft and real-life married couple Thomas and Dede Wegg-Prosser’s three-piece harmonies have – elevating over a samba style drum beat with some funkadelic guitars whizzing behind. Mid-album track ‘No More Time’ is a perfect example of the perfectly intertwined vocal harmonies of all the band members, each bringing their own unique nuances to the mix. From immense harmonies to tracks that wouldn’t sound out of place in a high-paced fitness class – ‘Heart Jump’ delivers an intense disco beat that you could quite realistically be sweating your hangover out at to in spinning class at your local gym.

The eleven song album manages to fit its fair share of foreign influences in, with a dosage of Spanish guitar inspiration the undertone to ‘Every Stone’ near the end of the record, as slowly you’re led on a foot-tappingly pleasant journey. They haven’t gone full Bombay Bicycle Club on this one, with Eastern/Mediterranean influences not dominating proceedings.

But from the start, we are treated to a shimmering indie-disco in ‘Modulate’, one of the album’s standout moments, whilst at the album’s conclusion we are given a stomping-synth underwritten crescendo. Finale ‘Blue’ is a testament to the growth the band have gone through in the past 2 years since their last release, using all the tricks they’ve learnt to create a majestic soaring portrait of doom-inspired synth-pop. It’s almost glorious in its minimalism, fading into nothing.

‘Movements’ is also – as their other records have been – a showcase for the immense musical talent of the group. Taking their hands to a whole whack of synthesizers, numerous percussion devices, and sampling whatever they can grab their hands on, which ranges from space age sound effects in ‘Modulate’ to doom-laden crashes in ‘Blue’, to some kind of retro video game-esque beeped booping in ‘You Only’.

‘Movements’ is a perfectly rounded album for this band, who are now no longer finding their feet and their place in the landscape of indie/dance music and the nebulous ground they stand on. With ‘Movements’ they’re setting their sights on the big leagues and with arguably one of the most summery albums of the fairer months it’s sure to be bursting out of numerous festival PAs, as crowds get their hips-a-shaking.

8/10

We Have Band’s third album ‘Movements’ is out now on We Have Band Records / Naive Records. Watch the group’s more recent promo video for the first single from the album, ‘Someone’, below.

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Album Review: Boy Jumps Ship – Lovers & Fighters EP

 
By on Wednesday, 4th June 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

It’s always inspiring to hear about an indie band you know getting that all-important early record deal. In the case of Newcastle’s Boy Jumps Ship, earlier this year they signed to indie European label Rude Records, who also represents heavy hitters Cancer Bats, The Gaslight Anthem and former touring mates We Are the Ocean, all bands we’ve written about here on TGTF.

If you’ve been keeping up with TGTF’s coverage of the Geordie band, I caught them playing a blistering set at Mello Mello on the Friday of Liverpool Sound City 2014 last month and was totally overwhelmed by them. It was at that time (or rather after their set when I nabbed them for an unplanned but fab interview in the basement of the venue) I heard about their new EP (their third one but first with Rude) just released this week, ‘Lovers & Fighters’. Five songs, 17 minutes and all heart in a hard as nails wrapper. What more could you want?

Considering its release on the cheeky first Monday of June, the album begins, rather appropriately I feel, with ‘Made You Proud’. When rock bands release albums before the summer festival season, it makes sense that at least one of the songs included on a release has incredible festival riot-inciting power. With its way too fun to repeat and raucous lyrics of, “tell all, all your friends / we’re not, we’re not scared / we’ll sleep, we’ll sleep when / when we’re, when we’re dead”, it’s a tune that’s just plain smart, while the song is about survival and living an honourable life so that “I count my lucky stars for me that you’re around / so when I rest these bones, I’ll make you proud”.

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Hmm. Where is all that awful debauchery and cursing that hard rock stars are supposed to be famous for, the criminal activity that usually sends me running? It’s…not…here! While you could argue that the title of EP midpoint ‘Start a Riot (Sick of Trying)’ might possibly be a bad influence, the song itself is about feeling lost and alone, frustrated to the point of wanting to riot. But somehow I don’t get that these guys would actually start a riot. And forget the riot theme for a moment: pay attention to its got kick arse chord changes and riffs all over the place that had my head bopping in multiple directions while I was working on this review. ROWR.

Standout track ‘Call to Arms’ begins with singer/guitarist Si Todd’s words, “It’s scaring me to death, I’ll still sing it when I’m dead / call to arms and you’re not answering”, indicating some initial apprehension. But this is quickly followed by drummer Gav Gates’ unrelenting drum beats to usher in the song and any such anxiety is gone as the rest of the band join in on the perfect start to a rock song: all the players coming together in unforgettable instrumental harmony. Words from the bridge “time keeps moving on, pretty soon we’ll all be gone / And we’re not answering to anyone” are unapologetic, cementing the underlying message of this EP: we’re going to do it our way, and are you with us? For further, see EP closer ‘We’re Not Giving Up’ if there was any question about this. And there should be none by the time these Geordies are through with you.

Full of heart and played by lads with plenty of fire in their bellies, this EP never really lets up in determination or volume, which is what you want in a tight set of songs from a young rock band on the cusp of greatness. Even if hard rock is not your favourite, I would bet anyone who can appreciate an extremely well-written song with unforgettable melody and guitar hooks, whether you’re a head-banger or not, will enjoy this EP. Boy Jumps Ship, you’ve done good. Now go forth and keep rocking the hell out. We’ll be waiting with bated breath for your debut album straight from the Toon.

8.5/10

Boy Jumps Ship’s latest EP ‘Lovers & Fighters’ is out now on Rude Records. The band will make a special live appearance at HMV Newcastle on Northumberland Street this Saturday, the 7th of June, at 3 PM.

 

Album Review: Glass Animals – Zaba

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd June 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Glass Animals are releasing their debut album next week on Wolf Tone, legendary producer Paul Epworth’s new label. As one of the label’s first signings, there’s palpable pressure in the air for the Oxford band live up to their label boss’s past massive successes (hello, Adele‘s ‘Skyfall’ and its many awards). But a better touchstone to use for the purpose of this review is a band Epworth produced several hit singles for some years ago, Friendly Fires.

Upon seeing them live for the first time in Washington, I thought the St. Albans trio were the most exciting, inventive electro dance band to come along in a long while. While ‘Zaba’ is definitely unique, it shares several key traits with ‘Friendly Fires’ that made it a great album to me back in 2008: interminable soul, an essence of funk and a knowing slickness one would not expect from such a young band. Even better, this entry from Glass Animals has beguiling lyrics too. That’s not something you can say about most dance albums. Score! Drummer Joe Seaward described the album to me last month as “…braver, bolder, and more confident” than the previous releases described by our Martin in his Bands to Watch feature on them last year, which is a good description of the results.

A glance through of features on the band around the blogosphere, you will notice that frontman Dave Bayley is reticent on the subject of his lyrics, even going so far as telling The Line of Best Fit’s Huw Oliver, “…I don’t want to ruin it like that for other people, just in case there’s some weirdo out there who’s come up with some kind of personal meaning to it”. Okay, so this ‘weirdo’ is going to bite. While ‘Zaba’ is full of esoteric and sometimes silly lyrics, I think I’ve managed to glean several song themes that will hopefully make it easier for those of you who might otherwise find the album hard to digest. And if you can wrap your head around the sometimes intellectual, sometimes sleazy but always entertaining lyrics, you will be rewarded.

First though, let’s talk about the instrumentation, shall we? Rhythmically, ‘Zaba’ is a wonder, with conventional drums and bass augmented brilliantly with a slew of electronic beats played live by multi-instrumentalists Drew MacFarlane (MacFarlane? hmm, that’s interesting…) and Ed Irwin-Singer and drummer Seaward. This means the band is already making a compelling sound even before Bayley has uttered a single note, described well in a quote from Bayley in the album’s press release: “The sound of the record is like a backdrop of man-made wilderness…”

Incredible attention to detail by way of jungle sounds – birds chirping and their ensuing echoes, the scratchings of other animals, water dripping, the crunch of leaves as they rustle, the not quite stillness of an idyllic hideaway – have all been added, lovingly, to the atmosphere. If you’re listening to the album on headphones with the lights off in your bedroom, you could successfully trick yourself into thinking you’re actually in the rainforest. (I did.) In that respect, the band have done well by the album title’s inspiration, children’s book The Zabajaba Jungle by William Steig that Bayley points out as one of the album’s influences. At the midpoint of the album is ‘Intruxx’, the closest Glass Animals gets to an instrumental on here; the tune is shrouded in the musical layers they’ve woven together here and sounds, amazingly, like something from another world.

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In current single and standout track ‘Pools’, the intoxicating dance beats serve to mirror the theme of the song: the intoxicating feeling of falling in love. It’s easy to get swept up in the percussive nature of Bayley’s mostly one, some two syllable lyrics (“I smile because I want to / I am your boy”) and the equally addictive tropical rhythms led by joyful marimba. It’s also smart: who wouldn’t want to sing along and dance to a song this fun? ‘Walla Walla’ and ‘Wyrd’ gives one the feeling of being inside a carnival machine: wicked beats and loads of things to appeal to the senses.

True to its name, 2013 single ‘Black Mambo’ slithers around every turn, its sinister guitar strums and too sweet to be true notes as hypnotising as a snake charmer. As I saw the manic crowd become mesmerised to the song and Bayley’s sultry vocal delivery of it at Liverpool Sound City this year, I fell under the song’s spell and sensed that yes, Glass Animals are going to do extremely well in America. Their sound is urban and soulful enough to get mainstream airplay here, and when they do get on our airwaves, agree with me, it’ll be a coup to get a song about a sloth talking to a mole on commercial radio, won’t it?

Admittedly, I thought from the words of previous single ‘Gooey’ (read Carrie’s review of its EP here) – “you just wanna know those peanut butter vibes” – that this all was a joke when I heard it months ago. I just couldn’t take it seriously and would laugh every time it came on 6music. (When I met and interviewed Bayley and Seaward in Liverpool last month, I just had to ask about the line, to which Bayley quipped in response, “it made sense! It makes sense in my head. But some weird things make sense in my head!”) But apparently I was right in some regard: when pressed by Australia’s Vulture Magazine earlier this year, Bayley explained it as “about youth and naïvety and childishness”. Phew. (Though to be fair, I assumed the lyrics “I can’t take this place / no I can’t take this place / I just wanna go where I can get some space” spoke less of naïvety and more of escapism.)


XFM recently asked children aged 10 or younger to provide their own reviews of ‘Pools’. When was the last time you heard a song ever possibly being described as “…sounds like an ice cream, melting on the seaside” or “it sounds like a rabbit dancing in my garden”? When was the last time you heard a pop song being described like this and you weren’t embarrassed? But lest you think the band is less than serious about what they’re doing, just watching the band perform the song for Australian radio station triple j and lay down the ethereal beats live is quite instructive, giving you a better appreciation of what electronic artists do in the live setting, especially if you’re not an electronic fan. (Want more? We went positively gaga over their cover of Kanye West’s ‘Love Lockdown’, also recorded in Oz.)

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The colourful nature of the music and accompanying fanciful album art by American illustrator Micah Lidberg may peg them as lovable psychedelic electro nerds, but there is no escaping that the band members’ love for hip hop since childhood has informed the overall vibe of ‘Zaba’. Having grown up with yet not relating at all to gangsta rap and its recurrent themes of misogyny and violence, it’s refreshing for me to listen to an album that is every bit as sonically arresting as some of the groovier, more melodic moments in rap, hip hop and r&b (Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’, Tupac’s ‘California Love’) and also enjoy the lyrics without wincing.

Album opener ‘Flip’ confronts fear and the feeling of being trapped via anticipatory slow build-up, while an impressive coolness comes off the finger snaps and the chill of Bayley’s falsetto flow in the exemplary earworm ‘Hazey’; if the latter isn’t chosen for a single release, I’ll be very disappointed. The only shortcomings to ‘Zaba’ are the last two tracks: ‘Cocoa Hooves’ was released previously as part of another EP and its immaturity comes through when compared to the more forward-thinking tracks included on the album, and the jungle vibe appears to have been lost on ‘JDNT’, feeling out of place. But seriously though, after getting all thoroughly vibed up and in the mood in the first nine tracks, who’s counting?

There is a sleekness and smoothness to ‘Zaba’, which is all the more awe-inspiring once you learn Paul Epworth provided executive, not heavy-duty lifting on the production of Glass Animals’ debut album, allowing the band pretty much free reign in the studio to do as they pleased. If this polished sound is what the band sounds like now, then we can only expect greater things from their future releases. ‘Zaba’ is a beautiful escape from our urban wasteland: a worthy respite where you can expand your mind through sound and soulful vocals and feel that much freer.

8/10

‘Zaba’, the debut album from Oxford’s Glass Animals, is out next Monday (9 June) on Paul Epworth’s new label Wolf Tone. Before embarking on their first headline tour of America in July, the band have a short UK tour beginning on the 14th of June in Cardiff, and just last Friday, they announced an intimate show at home at Oxford Jericho Tavern for the 26th. They will also be playing a free lunchtime in-store at London’s Rough Trade East on 13 June right before the UK tour begins.

 

Album Review: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Days of Abandon

 
By on Monday, 2nd June 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Days Of Abandon album coverIf you’re looking for an album of songs to soundtrack your summer, look no further than ‘Days of Abandon’, the latest release from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. I first listened to the album while in the car on a lengthy drive, and I was immediately inspired to put the top down and cruise along the beach, despite the facts that (a) I was actually in kind of a hurry and (b) I don’t own a convertible. I settled for rolling the windows down and letting the breeze blow through my hair as I grooved along with Pains’ shimmering pop melodies.

I’m normally attentive to lyrics first and foremost, but in the case of ‘Days of Abandon’, many of the vocal lines are blurred into the atmospheric sonic effects, frontman Kip Berman’s hushed vocals blending with the sheer, cool guitars and shimmering keyboards. The instrumental soundscapes are almost like too-bright sunlight partially obscuring an otherwise beautiful view. On its surface, this music is sunny and carefree, but closer examination of the lyrics (helpfully provided on the band’s Web site), reveals a juxtaposition of forlorn abandonment with the lighthearted and relaxed instrumental effects.

Where the lyrics do shine through, they are thoughtful and impressionistic, purposefully vague but vividly evocative. The first lines of opening track ‘Art Smock’, “I want to know what happened to you / I liked you better in your art smock / Mocking art rock without intention / Without design / You said you’d never be fine with being fine / Or mine”, are a perfect example, articulated over acoustic guitar and ringing chimes.

‘Simple and Sure’ is an upbeat track that lives up to its name with a catchy chorus and light pop vocals over a steady rhythm and driving guitar riffs; I could easily hear this as a backing track to a shiny summer advertising campaign. Its spinning chorus, “It might seem simple but I’m sure / I just want to be yours / It won’t be easy but I know / I simply want to be yours”, leaves the most enduring impression of any track on the album. (Editor Mary featured it as a Video of The Moment here back in March.)

‘Kelly’ is equally bouncy and carefree, with softly lilting vocals from keyboardist Jen Goma (A Sunny Day in Glasgow) and bright keyboard melodies over tripping percussion. Goma is also featured later in the album on ‘Life After Life’, and while her light, clear voice is a nice diversion from Berman’s breathy tone, the pair achieve a subtle blend that doesn’t distract from the overall mood of the record.

‘Beautiful You’ and ‘Coral and Gold’ are sweepingly atmospheric tracks that somehow fade into the background, despite their almost symphonic grandiosity. The former track is over 6 minutes in length, which feels a bit drawn out for a song whose structure consists mainly of rhyming couplets such as “A martyr in your garters / Harder than I’ll ever be”. The latter has an startlingly bombastic chorus that all but drowns the delicacy of its lovelorn lyrics.

The second half of the album is a bit more focused, starting with the crisp drums, vibrant guitar melody and anthemic chorus of ‘Eurydice’, which is upbeat despite its melancholic lyrics. ‘Masokissed’ is a bittersweet play on words: “Sweet masokissed in the morning mist / Why would you ever leave this place / When all I need is your chip-toothed smile to know / life’s more than okay?”, accompanied by a another lively guitar line.

‘Until the Sun Explodes’ is exactly the short but energetic fireball suggested in its title, the chorus a barrage of guitars and drums underpinned by heavy bass. (Check out the animated video below.) Closing track ‘The Asp at My Chest’ is an impressionistic and atmospheric track featuring a slow, entrancing tempo and the group’s signature hypnotic vocal blend, which, along with the hissing percussion, create quite a serpentine effect.

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‘Days of Abandon’ could be the perfect incidental music for the carefree days of summer. The purely pleasant pop style is easy on the ears and doesn’t require a great deal of commitment on the part of the listener. Nonetheless, devoted fans of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart will find reward in a little extra attention to the songs’ lyrical details.

8/10

‘Days of Abandon’, the third album from Brooklyn’s The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, is out today on Fierce Panda. The group have also announced a short list of UK tour dates to follow the album release.

 

Album Review: The Heartbreaks – We May Yet Stand a Chance

 
By on Friday, 30th May 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Morecambe band The Heartbreaks are an unusual proposition in today’s music climate. After reading this disheartening article in the Observer last weekend whose contents I knew to be true but I didn’t enjoy reading it spelled out in black and white, I’m positive they’re the kind of band that doesn’t fit into anyone’s boxes and won’t get a fair shake at Radio 1. Ever. But one gets the distinct feeling the Heartbreaks were never in it to gain approval from those kinds of suits.

That’s something very Northern of them: wanting to write and put out the kind of music they want, the way they wanted to, and sod everyone else. ‘We May Yet Stand a Chance’ is proof of this. I mean, for one, just look at the title. It’s a sneer, albeit a veiled one, to the people who say bands like them will never make it. It’s witty, in the vein of what their former tourmate and idol Morrissey might write. Yet it’s tinged with optimism, that there is underlying hope, that success is achievable, that there’s a method to the madness. But is this album truly enough to make their voices heard?

‘We May Yet Stand a Chance’ is the second album from the lads, and it’s being released 2 years on from ‘Funtimes’, which featured several pop gems including my personal favourite ‘I Didn’t Think It Would Hurt to Think of You’ and the song that was voted by the readers of The Fly as the best song of 2012 and made the BBC’s Steve Lamacq sit up and take notice of the group, ‘Delay, Delay’. Lammo’s support of the group continues with this album, having famously decreed in February that after listening to the new album and determining how great it was, he would quit his post at 6music if the suits didn’t find it in their hearts to play the band’s music. That’s about as good as a golden endorsement as you’re ever going to get from the indie band champion of the world. So far, the band have released three singles, two of which found great support among TGTF ranks: Martin reviewed ‘¡No Pasarán!’ in October and extolled its nod to Ennio Morricone and sonic epicness, and when I was in holiday in Sheffield earlier this month, I applauded the incredible pop melody and thoughtful lyrics of drummer Joe Kondras in ‘Absolved’.

However, as a complete album, the song order of the album doesn’t work well, nor do I think it’s particularly cohesive as a group of songs put together. I understand every band’s interest in putting all their energy into the singles they plan to release, since those are the ones that have the chance to get picked up by radio. In the Heartbreaks’ case, I think the album suffers from a lack of momentum, especially after getting a running start with singles ‘Absolved’ and ‘Hey, Hey Lover’, the latter of which begins gracefully but becomes a monster of a commanding love song. Much of the rest of the album’s instrumentation centres on the deft guitar work of Ryan Wallace, but the songs are of the slow burn, reflective, introspective variety and might disappoint those expecting an album full of ‘Absolved’ and ‘Hey, Hey Lover’ clones.

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As a concept on paper, LP opener ‘Paint the Town Beige’ should work: it’s an exercise in calling out the sanitisation and gentrification of our cities so they’re more palatable for the richer echelons of society. However, it gives the false impression that the rest of the album is…well…equally slimy and downtrodden. It’s a lot to take in, if that’s your initial whiff of this album. (Later on, the album is bookended by ‘Dying Sun’, which brings their political views back up to the surface, but whether or not this will serve to their benefit or detriment remains to be seen.) ‘Robert Jordan’ is presumably about the doomed character in Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, whose own ideals were changed by the brutality of the Spanish civil war.

“What would it take / for your world to shake / and to disturb your soul / and make you believe in something other than that what you have?” sings frontman Matthew Whitehouse. As stirring as words are – you’re going to find in the albums released this year – the bigger problem is not the song itself but rather who are going to take to this song, or not. ‘Fair Stood the Wind’, which the Heartbreaks previewed at their support slot at Fierce Panda’s 19th birthday party slamdown last year headlined by their mates the Crookes (scroll down the review and you’ll see live video of the song), is a gorgeously tender ballad with sad guitar appropriate for the words, which I found in this one particularly painful. The repeated lyrics speaking of “the obsession of the moment” for Kondras: unrequited love.

Then there are the moments that make you scratch your head. The tempo picks up slightly with ‘Bittersweet’, with underlying funkiness I never would have expected from the Heartbreaks. An unexpected plus. Later, the softness and sadness of ‘Fair Stood the Wind’ is strangely followed up by the mess that is ‘Man Overboard’, a lackadaisical hoedown. It’s a clear misstep, unless they were purposely trying to take the edge off the previous song?

You have to wonder how this all came about, if in the same exact album they can write something like ‘Rome’, a sweeping beauty with handclap flourishes and uplifting guitar you want to hug close to your chest, it’s so stunning. Maybe the problem with ‘We May Yet Stand a Chance’ is its lack of focus. The Heartbreaks should be commended for wanting to bring up social issues in pop and taking the chance to do so, but I have less faith that the casual music fan will be willing to sit still through this 39-minute album.

6/10

The Heartbreaks’ sophomore album ‘We May Yet Stand a Chance’ will be out next Monday, the 2nd of June, on Nusic Sounds. Catch the band gigging tonight at London Oslo. Below is the band’s trailer for the album with a clip of ‘Paint the Town Beige’.

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About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest tours, gigs, and music we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like idiots.

The blog is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington DC. She is joined by writers in the UK and America. It was started up by Phil Singer in Bristol, UK.

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