The Hours
A&M RECORDS 5.02.07

Carefully sculpted in 2005, Narcissus Road finally gets a release two years later, willing to fit a space that has been created by comparable bands being in the studio. Sounding like a grittier Athlete, with elements of Turin Brakes and even, (dare I say it?) the Smiths, the tunes are catchy, with lyrics that mean something.

The album opens with “Ali In The Jungle”, recounting ‘the greatest comeback since Lazarus’ – Mohammed Ali, back from the dead in 1974 when he knocked out George Foreman, soon-to-be grilled meat supremo. And it is with this sense of postmodernity that Narcissus Road – a title that very much reflects the mood of the album – continues, through its title track, which tells a story of self-obsession, into further stories.

There is very much a folk-influenced storytelling vibe going on here, although the band would no doubt disagree. Their website describes one of their primary influences as being The Clash, a comparison that is difficult to follow.

Narcissus Road is one of those albums with lines that really make you listen. “Love You More” - a very Capitalist song – begins ‘I love you more than my record collection / I love you more than my football team / I love you more than my Adidas Trainers’. “Icarus”, meanwhile, doesn’t hide from the fact that it is alluding to Greek mythology, ‘Like Icarus he flew too close to the sun’, but this serves to show that The Hours aren’t just throwing these names around; they genuinely know of what they speak.

Despite starting like David Grey’s ‘Babylon’, “Murder or Suicide?” is powerful in its allusiveness. Is it talking about a relationship breakdown? Drugs? Loneliness? “I Need To Know” suggests it’s probably a bit of all 3.

If you hadn’t guessed, I’m rather fond of this album, mostly because it’s got brains. Sure, the tracks later on do start to slip into the same sound, but if you refocus, there are still some corking lines buried within.

Highly recommended, and reportedly brilliant live – go buy this album!

Simon Middleyard