Album Review: We Have Band – Ternion

By on Monday, 30th January 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

“It’s better to burn out than fade away” is a quote often bandied around on the modern alternative scene. ‘Ternion’, the second full-length offering from Manchester-based indietronic three-piece We Have Band, shows there can be a degree of nuance to synth-pop. Think New Order, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark or the Antlers or Kraftwerk spawning a mildly irked Hot Chip, and you won’t be far off. What strikes you about this album is its dynamism: in places it is bombastic and almost primal in its draw, while in others it can float unaided and, sadly, it occasionally sags.

‘Shift’ leans towards neo-psychedelia circa MGMT. Someone’s obviously forgotten to plug the synth in, unlike ‘After All’ which goes off like a Mega Drive on a bad trip. The looped guitar whisper on this track is the siren that lures you to the depths of distorted bass synth, humming like seawater in your eardrum throughout the song. A rousing and mesmeric vocal melody seals it up as a definite floor-filler. ‘Ternion’ then takes a premature nose-dive: single ‘Where Are Your People’ (video below) and the faux-empirical ‘Visionary’ are sadly forgettable, while ‘What’s Mine, What’s Yours’ sounds a bit like their take on the theme from ‘Look Around You’.

Thankfully, ‘Steel in the Groove’ is the full hypnotic assault that revs the album back from its idle meander. It is, however, an intro that is not matched by the featureless dance soundscape that follows. ‘Tired of Running’ is similar in structure, continuing the ‘90s house vibe, but this time manages to maintain a rhythm which proves to be alarmingly infectious. On ‘Watertight’, the band hit their stride again with a swinging beat and mesmerising vocals. The march continues, sounded by the primal drums of ‘Rivers of Blood’, filled with so many throwaway bleeps it sounds like a microwave with Tourette’s. ‘Pressure On’ is an ethereal contrast to the rest of the album, with a comforting fuzz and almost choir-like melancholy.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktAGS-vT5Lg[/youtube]

ZZ Top discussed recently in an article in the Guardian the idea that music correlates with the sounds of the society in which it was born. The deep-south had the roar of Spitfire engines strapped to planks scything through the swamps of Texas. The first tech-boom of the ’80s, still harbouring some of the colour and optimism of the preceding 20 years, brought the synthesizer from a nerdish and maligned boy’s toy to an instrument that was to revolutionize all subsequent music. There’s something in these moments of serene, technological ambience, the stuttering glitches of a ’90s printer, and 8-bit charm that means although it may not be prove to be seminal, ‘Ternion’ undoubtedly captures the world in which We Have Band grew.

6/10

‘Ternion’, the second album from We Have Band, is available today through Naive.

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