Nottingham five piece, Falling Off Maps début album, A Seaside Town In Winter, is a tale of two halves. On one side, songs like ‘Honest‘, ‘The Redeemer‘, ‘I.D.S.T’ and ‘Through The Forest‘ have an emotive fragility which doesn’t so much sucker punch you in the gut, but more so prods your heart to check it is still pumping. It is on the earlier stages of the album and the aforementioned tracks where this is most visible with singer Dave Wrights often childlike high vocals almost cracking under the weight of the burden of his words with a story telling lyric style of damaged relationships, as well as the difficulties of getting older at the forefront of subtle guitar work, trip-hop styled drumming, groove driven bass playing and intelligent, minimalist piano and electronic work that we’ve seen before in a less subtle way from the likes of Radiohead‘s In Rainbows.
Sadly though, somewhere along the way, A Seaside Town In Winter seems to lose itself and the pacing of the album goes awry. While the early subtle tracks sound like a mix of Radiohead, Portishead and folkier acts, tracks like ‘Visiting Hours‘ sound from the offset more like a lacklustre Coldplay or Keane (think epic piano build-up with repeated vocal melody and you have the whole seven minute track figured out). While ‘Wolf River/The Smoking Room At Hotel Cafe‘ suffers from the being an eight minute track mid-way into an album, with more repeated (and this time chant) vocals which don’t seem to be the bands forte.
At fourteen tracks long, A Seaside Town In Winter is the victim of being too long, and with the inclusion of a more anthemic turn, seems to lose sense of the narrative the band were clearly trying to tell with the album titles theme. That said, if this is anything to go by, Falling Off Maps have clearly got a bright future and are one to watch out for.
A Seaside Town In Winter by Falling Off Maps was released via Square Peg Round Hole recordings on 27th January 2014