By Then Thickens
Every once in a while you approach an album review with a pre-conceived idea of what a band will sound like, you shouldn't of course, but you do. The CD gets slipped in to the stereo, the music starts.... And your mind gets blown, not just by the curve ball in style that you can hear, but by the quality of song writing and melody.
Featuring amongst the ranks ex-members from Rolo Tomassi and Kong, I expected an aural battering from the outset with Death Cap At Anglezarke, but this isn't a heavy or thrashy album in any way, with beautiful melodies and finely constructed songs being the key ingredients.
The opener 'Heaven Won't Wait' sets the tone perfectly coming over as a psychedelic shoegaze (look it up kids) track, with rich, deep vocals from John-Lee Martin and a tune that instantly lodges itself in your head.
An ability to craft a melody and chorus that should appeal to a much wider audience doesn't cheapen the album in any way, it might be classic three and a half minute stuff in many ways, but it's cleverly wrapped in lyrics that reveal inner demons, is sung from the heart and musically is head and shoulders above anything else I've heard this year.
A perfect example of this is Ritalin Love, with the lead vocals not for the first time on this album being complimented by the honeyed tones of Helen Thorpe it tells of an inner weakness for the 'little white pills', a fragility that never hangs far away from the surface and gives the listener a real sense of the inner turmoil.
That self loathing comes through again on the reprise of Any Other Thing, it's stripped back to acoustic, the vocals honest and weary as Martin sings of a relationship that was only built around whiskey and cocaine. While it doesn't paint him in the best light (depending on your tastes in life), it's this open and emotional vulnerability that draw you deeper and deeper in to the album, the accessible, familiarity of the tracks on repeated listens are a pleasure, but it's the lyrics that reveal the real depth to the album and will keep you coming back.
Simply my favourite album I've heard this year and one that rewards you time and time again, let your perceptions be blown apart and don't miss what is still a hidden gem.