I was utterly floored by Watchers when they opened for The Charlatans on their acoustic tour last year and grabbed myself a couple of self-released CDs there and then. Those six songs get a regular airing and each time I hear them I'm back in the Brudenell, instantly reminded of the skill and energy from that mightily impressive set. I've kept an eye out for them since then so when I spotted a debut double A-side single I jumped at the chance to hear it. I'm glad I did.
The sound here is everything those earlier recordings promised and more. There's still raw energy in abundance but the production is in a different league: curves are smoother and lines more clearly drawn. Those earlier tracks all have distinctive and experimental moments that made them such an exciting live band that night but the mood here is more controlled and polished - not to say they hold anything back. The characteristics of those earlier tracks; the fuzz and thud of the rather brilliant "Show us your hands", the psych jam intro of "Sex Songs (Open Door)", the trippy haze of "The path of least resistance", the chilled bliss of "Lotus Flower" which blooms into a shoegaze-era giant; are less evident here but the songs have something in common with one earlier track, namely "Wheels on fire", so for me there's continuity alongside the progression of their music.
"Cut the ribbon" is addictively catchy even by the first chorus. The vocals are wholly accomplished and the music spellbinding and effective from start to finish. In fact the full scale of the orchestration only revealed itself to me after several listens and I'm still finding something new with every play now. What the ribbon is being cut for exactly, I'm not sure but mention of olive branches in hand suggests moving on from something, reconciling differences, maybe moving onto something new even. Who knows but it's a great first song. I try to avoid comparing bands to other artists - I'm sure everyone sets out to make their own sound - but if I was pressed to name bands you might like already then I'd say The Gaslight Anthem would be a fair comparison, but only in places. Anyway you're smart and you shouldn't need a reason to hear these songs beyond wanting to hear good stuff so maybe just work on the assumption that Watchers are very good and that you like very good music. Sound like a fair deal?
"Every night I look strong" shows off more great vocals - a young Rod Stewart on the intro I thought - and builds to a chorus Springsteen would be proud to say he'd penned. There's a feel of pop-rock to this one, a grandeur that binds well together to affect the uplifting aroma of a band completely in control. Finally and as a treat, the full version of "Cut the ribbon" rounds things off nicely on this release. You'll welcome this because by the time you've heard both tracks you'll want to hear another one right away. Selfishly though, I can't wait to see if any of the older tracks get a reworking in the future because if they do, and if the touches of higher production like those on show here are in place, there will be a new big sound on the block.