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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

FOLKS: I see Cathedrals- album review.

Debut albums and Mancs are usually a match made in heaven, so let’s hear what Folks (Scott Anderson (Vocals), Michael Beasley (Guitar), Thom Fripp (Lead Guitar), Harry Gumery (Bass), Wil Akroyd (Keyboards) and Elliot Barlow (Drums) have to offer; I hope it’s every bit as good as their live sets that seem to effortlessly captivate the crowds.

The album’s urgency-fuelled introduction boils over with promise as a wealth of possibility ebbs and flows between the slightly surreal reprises and Beach Boy backing vocals which intercut it, before ‘My Mother’ abruptly ends without warning.  The signs are all good so far; who knows, maybe we’ll have another merit-worthy Manc outfit to admire? 
A somewhat blissed-out ‘Avalanche‘ follows, meandering yet managing to maintain the upbeat tempo of its predecessor as it emulates a Gibb brother-driven ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’.  Sadly, this (free download) debut release closes in a cloud of indifference, without leaving any real impact.

Simplistic ‘People I've Known’ revisits the fab four once more, as ‘I’m only Sleeping’ subtly seeps in and out of an uninspiring composition that’s perhaps saved only by the sleepy Sunday lead vocal.

Upbeat and energetic ‘Skull & Bones’ sticks to the same non-offensive formula that ultimately, has  failed to offer anything new to further the listener since the outset of what’s so far proved to be a middle of the road album.  Some all too infrequent breakdowns supply some unexpected and possibly Zepp-inspired aural highlights that echo and all too overused ‘Cashmere’.

Lead by a vocal tenderness that practically undermines all else involved. ‘Ink’ is a short and gentle, easy going song that pleasingly stirs both Gomez and Dylan’s ‘Fourth Time Around’ to great effect.

Giving us the most established sounds of the CD so far, the surely ‘Don’t go Away/Stop Crying your heart out’-inspired ‘Where does the White Go?’ engages and ensures we listen in to a track that tragically fails to find itself in unchartered territory.

With its repetitive, almost nauseating drum-filled backdrop ‘Do the Right Thing’ is undeniably catchy yet serves only as typical flipside fodder; its only saving grace is that it (once again) sounds a little like the majestic Gomez.

Shot through with the sounds and sentimentality of the Smiths’ ‘There is a Light that Never goes Out…’ and spurring ill-founded excitement, accessible ‘Anywhere You Want to Go’ fails to live up to the expectations initially instilled by a great sounding but all too repetitive track. 
Studio trickery only serves to infuriate as its absurd absence is sorely highlighted during ‘Venom’ and ‘I See Cathedrals’ has started to feel like a polished jamming session. Flashes of Badly Drawn Boy’s ‘More than a Woman’-influenced ‘Silent Sigh’ go a long way to improve matters and actually, this could be the best, most diverse and dynamic offering yet.

The Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’ closely stalks the sonically refreshing ‘Say Something’, an organ-driven track that pleasingly features an inviting chorus that annoyingly gets repeated and tramples upon any unrealised potential towards the tracks close.

Owing for the lead vocal, buoyant ‘Four & Twenty Blackbirds’ would do Radiohead proud.  Non-engaging storytelling rides the penultimate tracks natural propulsion towards the most diverse outro yet heard herein.

‘The Ship’ predominantly serves as a vocal tribute to both Liam Gallagher and John Lennon, whilst the latter’s ‘Oh My Love’ & ‘I Don’t Want to be a Soldier’ are simultaneously summoned within the atmospheric mixing. 

I guess the missing element of this album is the swagger that numerous Manc lad bands such as upstarts Lowline or My Captive Audience tend to have.  That’s not to say that we need more of that all too commonplace ‘I’m God’s gift to music’ Manc attitude of course, but I like FOLKS, they just need to inject a little more pizzazz into their somewhat repressed and ultimately unrealised sound.

Wearing their influences on their collective sonic sleeves will do no harm either, especially if it lands them support slots with the likes of Noel Gallagher, but what I really want to hear is this band loosen up a little, before they miss Manchester’s musical renaissance that’s now come around in a wave of band reformations (thanks to the Stone Roses and their inspiring Heaton Park payday!).