After releasing four full-length albums, touring across the UK and US creating a fervent storm with the likes of Bluetones and phenomenal reception from critics in the music business, the three piece outfit from the UK have created a sombre, haunting album that is so hard to pigeon-hole, it’s almost not even a pigeon, or a bird, or anything tangible on this ground-breaking album.
Opening track Miss Emily begins with soft acoustic chords with soft bells and percussion in the background before the mix turns sour. Off notes, solemn lyrics and grave vocals make this song almost uncomfortable to listen to, yet you carry on because it has a refreshingly new sound, despite being similar to folk-rock and sixties pop. The whistling carrying this track is so haunting and off-putting, it makes this listen a little difficult as it gets stronger, but it is infectious none-the-less with a lulling beat to carry the vocals like a coffin.
This rolls into The Ballad of Crazy Nicole which although you might not think possible, gets much darker. There’s more echo on the vocals, damper guitars and a slow pace which has a beautiful edge to it. Though lamenting, it’s so bittersweet with its calm and thoughtful musical elements it is a perfectly crafted piece easy to get lost in.
Hits Michael Caine and Liar are without a doubt the highlights of the album. The first has an almost mariachi feel gone rogue to start with with its upbeat, sunny chords with a slightly dark edge. Its faster than most tracks on the album offering a bit of diversity, though it still maintains its difficult edge with lingering group ‘na na’s’ and lyrics hard to confront, yet this is a lot easier to bob your head along to than previous tracks.
Liar by contrast almost seems like it doesn’t belong on this album; so upbeat and cheery you could believe a totally different outfit wrote this. In the ultimate turn of diversity, it incorporates clean-cut vocals, no echoes in sight than shows the strength of vocalist Tim Ellis’ voice over a faster tempo and happy melody bringing a grin straight to your face.
Elvis in a Daze and Blow Me Away offer my favourite musical moments of the album. The former with its ethereal, almost whale noise intro making your spine tingle and continuing in this fashion to create a song that ol’ snake hips himself would surely have loved; and the latter which though subtle, incorporates nifty guitar-work and sandbags making the song sound faster with its sober vocals. These simple techniques create an entirely different track to the rest of the album and show the ability of true musicians.
Closing track Rain begins acapella, making the vocals slightly stand-offish and in-your-face. They drone against the high-pitched nearly wailing guitars rising and falling and creating a juxtaposition of gentle melody to driving force of musical grandeur, made ever the more potent with the addition of extra vocals when you least expect it, creating an all-out climactic finish.
It’s true what they say, this album and indeed band are incredibly hard to define. They incorporate so many different influences and techniques to create something totally unheard of in the music scene now, which is so refreshing, and which will surely propel them to the forefront of many music genres.