I wasn’t expecting to like this. There seemed something sensitive and smooth about it and it does, indeed, have a very polished production. But there is something in the lyrics that hits that sweet spot for me that is individual to each of us. And the music has that special touch for me – lots of minor chords, a slightly yearning sad / happy feeling. The single, All The Love In Your Hands, is an example – there is a line just before the chorus that follows the same bittersweet trajectory of a Neil Young song and they rarely fail to tug at the emotions. The shiny guitar and rolling accelerando of the musical corner-turning reminds me of My Vitriol The smoothness and appeal to the slightly soppy sound may well be due to the hands of Danton Supple, Coldplay producer, at the controls. There is a mid-Atlantic sound that belies the band’s origins in Penzance. It appears that a diet of Grandaddy records, Mercury Rev and sea air has given a relaxed and widescreen atmosphere to the writing of Will South, front man. The first album was a gentle affair with a couple of louder moments and that left them with a rather too gentle live act, unless they were about to start touring seated venues. This, the second album is an attempt to ramp things up a notch.
By ‘ramp things up a notch’, that isn’t to say this is some rock-out, guitar-crunching, feedback screech. This is about as hard rocking as Coldplay and I’ve gone into print many times deriding them as bedwetting whiners. So what’s the difference? It’s the lack of whining. The emotions are soppy, lots of love and love-lost songs, all wistful and bleary-eyed. But they wallow or hymn without bemoaning their lot. Perhaps the Cornish air engenders a sense of equinamity. The songs are the sort that people wave lighters to and the effort at polishing it to the product that Coldplay fans expect gives them a shot at drawing in the masses. Spaces are filled to a big sound and frills are added, gloss added to chiming sounds and an air of effortlessness conjured up.
For now, the band is playing the sweaty pits of the provincial circuits so it’ll be interesting to see how they carry over their version of arena rock. Despite Will South saying “it’s a lot harder, a lot grittier”, it’s a big shiny mainstream sound, made for big venues.