Of Mice & Men
The Mo Club, Southampton, UK - 16/4
How Strange The Night
Written by: TL on 29/12/2012 13:31:06
For the first few moments in the verse of "Catholic Guilt", the opening song on "How Strange The Night", a debut mini-album from American indie-rock crew Foreign Home, the mellow singing in the verse has me thinking that I'm in for some moody, Morrissey-type stuff - But as soon frontman Deric Williams raises his voice to a thinner croon that will carry both the chorus here as well as much of the rest of the album, it becomes clear that Foreign Homes are somewhat lighter on their feet, offering a crisp laid-back sound that's more reminiscent of French upcomers Air Bag One, or British Irish/British contemporaries Two Door Cinema Club and Bombay Bicycle Club.
You'll get up-tempo beats and crisp, sizzling little guitar riffs then, that sound 'hip' in the way they try to get something going while remaining elaborately cool and casual about, painting a background for William's vocals, which also sound pretty relaxed most of the time, only stirring with hints of energy when he raises the tone for the choruses. Shortly put, it's the kind of production this record, that makes you feel like it's got some authority simply because it sounds like how you expect the genre to sound in 2012, but which eventually struggles with the ordinary 'young-band-hurdles'. The sound reminds you of bigger bands, but does not do enough to establish its own character, and mostly it does not get enough help from the songs either.
Those are the dull news. The good news is that there are hints here that Foreign Home might be heading in the right direction. "Knife Fight In A Telephone Booth" for instance, catches your attention fast, with its frantic beat and riff combination in the opening, and keeps things exciting by slowing down with a chill synth movement and a cool solo in its mid-section. "Weary Bones" gets recognisable via the good old "hint the chorus before the song starts" trick (no shame in that) and prior to both "Hoax" has also made a good impression with vividly bubbling guitar-work that sounds like it is struggling to contain itself in the bottom of the song.
The overall verdict is that "How Strange The Night" is indeed a cool sounding debut, that casts Foreign Home as a band that understands their genre at an early point, yet also as one that has tasks ahead of them in terms of coming up with a fresh take on it that is their own, and in terms of just refining the songwriting in the way bands are asked to do more and more, in a world where we all have the luxury of being able to move on to another band if we don't feel rewarded (quickly) enough.
Download: Knife Fight In A Telephone Booth, Hoax, Weary Bones
For The Fans Of: Two Door Cinema Club, Bombay Bicycle Club, Air Bag One, Young The Giant
Release Date 21.08.2012