February Album Review (part 2) – Family Rain, You Me At Six and Bombay Bicycle Club

Continuing our February album review from yesterday...

Another UK debut now, Under the Volcano from The Family Rain, who we’ve been raving about since we saw them a year ago in our local venue (the West End Centre Aldershot). Three young-ish brothers from Bath, the lazy comparison is ‘a British Kings of Leon’. But there is some truth in that, with their tuneful yet surprisingly heavy blues-rock style – if you told me the opening track was KoL I would not have been surprised.  Kasabian and Band of Skulls – another young-ish UK band who bring a freshness to a well-trodden stylistic path – also come to mind. It is an  impressive album, not least because there is no tailing off in quality. Indeed, the final track, All the Best, and Friction – only on the limited edition CD or download – are highlights.

I’m not sure there is a track here that will propel them into the instant Premier League in the way that Bastille (with Pompeii) and The 1975 (Chocolate) managed last year, but another good start to what should be a successful career. A very solid (in a good way ) 8/10

You Me At Six aren’t really my thing. I bought Cavalier Youth for my darling wife (musical mental age – 17). They’re in that pop/punk/rock market segment, much beloved by teens who have grown out of Bieber but haven’t quite decided which musical sub-genre they’re really going to get into. That market interestingly crosses over into also appealing to the older rock fans who hear echoes of ‘classic rock’ (via Bon Jovi and Guns & Roses to U2 and Green Day) in some of these young bands.

But I must say I enjoyed this more than I expected, and I suspect lots of parents whose kids listen to this will feel the same. The band are from Weybridge in Surrey, same age as my daughter who saw them as 16 year olds playing Camberley Football Club in 2006,  so don’t expect songs from the mean streets. In fact, don’t worry about the words too much at all. But from the first few bars of “Too Young to Feel this Old” it is a succession of really big, if pretty simple pop rock tunes, played with energy and verve, lots of potential stadium audience sing-along choruses, and it all passes in an enjoyable manner. This will move the band up a notch or two in commercial terms too – I can see them doing those huge venues in a few more years.  7/10.

Now, the most difficult of this weekend’s albums to review. With So Long, See You Tomorrow, their fourth album, Bombay Bicycle Club they continue their quest to be the hardest ‘indie ‘ band to pin down. This has got really pretty mixed reviews, from not great to 5 stars, and I can understand the confusion. They’re a very self effacing band, a bunch of bright, slightly geeky introverts you would think. And their music doesn’t leap up and grab you, but all three previous albums, including their folk excursion Flaws, were real growers even if each had a quite different style.

This is influenced by their travels and picks up influences from all over the place, with touches of ‘world music’, as well as dance and indie rock. And.. I don‘t know. I like it, that’s for sure. But you can see why some reviewers said it lacked heart and (certainly) a clear identity. It might be work of genius, and I’m just not quite recognising it yet. Every song is different but very carefully crafted, so it may just need some time to get into, I suspect.

There’s a lot to it –just the first track Overdone runs through about  four very distinct phases and sounds. Look , if you like intelligent, clever but tuneful indie, pop or rock, you will enjoy this.  Actually, perhaps its nearest reference points are smart US indie bands such as Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear? I’ll give it an 8/10 at the moment, but don’t be surprised if it features strongly in my end of the year charts once I’ve listened to it a few dozen times – it may be this year’s Vampires of the Modern City.

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