There’s something odd about this record, as it whips you back to the mid 90’s for its heart, and leaves anyone who appreciates a certain amount of urgency feeling restless. (That’s if I am anything to go by, and having conducted a very brief straw poll of everyone on this room I find results 100% in my favour.) Throughout the album it feels like you are already used to their sound, because it’s a touch too comfortable.
A lot of it is to do with how they progress through a song, where there are no real highs or lows, just constant subtle activity, and the constancy of ‘Vathek’ is a perfect example. Immaculately played and sung, they glide around you, then ‘Fallen’ lets the nimble guitar have full reign, but instead of becoming something of a clichéd dated sound, they also have sleek and brilliant bass underpinning the melodramatic vocals, and if it sounds like an improved version of an old standard Gawf band like Nosferatu, that’s because it is. A tried and noted form, produced without clodhopping ways; little bursts of vocal emphasis serving as the turning points within each piece.
So ‘Step Down’ is mild Goth breezing by, and when ‘Days Of November’ bustles in dramatically, with light fluffy guitar countered by cautious cross-riffing, this is easily the most polite Goth I have heard in an age, but when it works, as with the beautiful ‘Fragments’, it does so wonderfully well. They stretch the mood, without anything becoming taut or anxious, but despite this familiarity in all they do the composition’s strength do all its own talking.
Unfortunately, songs tend to seep into one another. ‘No More Gods’ is pleasantly reflective, with almost no intentional use of energy to move it along, and although the drum sounds are slightly heavier in ‘Flight’ there is guitar draped over everything, smothering the vocals. ‘Shine’, an old song revisited, seems airier and lightly frayed, but it’s still a model example of genteel behaviour.
I can only assume it is consistently sedate because they wanted to ensure they didn’t let themselves down with their debut, and in terms of musicianship and delivery they haven’t, but next time they’ll need to open up.