The folk-rockers from sunny Stoke return with an absolutely stonking follow up to 2015’s ‘Underdog Songs.’
What’s clear from the start is that the band are all on top form and the production is in full throttle. The harmonies are hypnotic, and they sit atop the most driving rhythms I’ve yet heard from this band. It’s definitely not an album to listen to quietly, it’s a real ear-grabber and needs listening to on top volume. Lead singer Gary’s vocals are by far the strongest I’ve heard them, and they work perfectly with the angelic harmonies of drummer/vocalist Sophie Bret Tasker.
Lyrically, this is clever stuff for sure, but never crosses over into pretentiousness. The band cover the same political and personal avenues that were explored in their debut album with an even more direct effect on the audience. It rewards repeat listening, and keeps you wondering what else you’re going to tune into on the next listen.
As a fully signed up Paul Simon nut, my interest was also piqued by several nods to the great New York bard on this album. Firstly, there is the song ‘Paul Simon’ itself, which is a beautiful, if slightly soul-destroying ballad (the line ‘you try to write like Paul Simon but you’ll never be up to that’ cut deep for me personally, as it’s what I’ve been trying and failing to do for some 20 years now!). Then there is the cover of one of Paul’s best songs, ‘Boy in the Bubble,’ which the band impressively manages to make its own; no mean feat for one of his best and most recognisable songs.
Other album highlights for me on the first couple of listens were ‘Sum of my Parts’ (what an album opener!), ‘Bury Me Standing,’ ‘In a Previous Life I Painted Portraits’ and their single ‘To the Moon;’ but this is a consistently great album, and I know I’m going to keep on finding new things to love on future listens.
Check out the album here.