This London based seven piece specialise in folk-pop with hints of rockier leanings, akin to Laura Marling taking the helm of Los Campesinos! with a snifter of Arcade Fire‘s high-speed crowd rousing grandiosity.
Opening track A Million Ways sets up shop, Kerry Adamson’s light voice against a jaunty shanty of percussion, twinkling bells, Americana guitar licks and feverish acoustics. It would make a nice double-bill with similarly joyful folk-rockers Bear Driver, though the track is a reasonably vapid affair, more a curtain raiser than a song that will linger on in the memory. Burn is better, re-calling Ed Harcourt with its dark-hearted calls of ‘Man, I’m gonna watch you burn!’, rising piano lines and grand choruses.
One Blank Channel is a lively, if uninvolving slab of frenetic folk-rock noise, whilst Adamson’s vocals burble out with a pleasingly ramshackle abandon, the music takes a back seat, a stream of jangling something that doesn’t engage the ears. There’s a certain brit-pop swagger to Time, Adamson sneering ‘bend me and break me’ over squeaking strings and a moody, jazzy piano. Value the One you Love has a similarly supper-club feel to its verses, building towards a deliciously filthy, grumbly guitar around the three minute mark; laced with the operatic pop shimmer of The Hot Puppies.
There seems to be a theme with this album, that it goes poor track then good track, and that’s continued by the enthusiastic if underwhelming No Direction, followed by the sombre Struggle On which is reminiscent of now-defunct Irish popsters The Chalets at their retro-ballad best. Adamson’s voice strong against the angsty, choppy guitars, bittersweet keys, wondering remorsefully; ‘And what would you do to a heart like mine?’ Fish Food is an avant-garde anthem, like a mish-mash of Kate Goes and Alicia’s Attic, with a delightfully quirky repeated refrain of ‘If I fed you my brain, and you fed me your brain…’ which Adamson sings sweetly between verses where she snarls like Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls. It roller-coasters towards its conclusion and is one of the few songs on the record that feels a little cut short, when it could have easily turned into an epic, bonkers cacophony; but, perhaps, best to be left wanting more.
Circus flits from one idea to the next a little too blithely to really hold together and make much of an impression, leaving us with Two Acrobats, a tender little finale with swoonsome strings, gently plucked acoustic guitar and laidback drumming. It’s a nice change of pace for the close of this record which is a generally listenable and enjoyable experience, but suffers from having a few too many tracks that substitute ideas with energy. There’s a damn fine EP tucked up in this album, and a group with a truckload of potential for the future.