Lonely The Brave

Things Will Matter

Written by: TL on 01/10/2016 16:31:28

Cambridge quintet Lonely The Brave broke through to the UK scene with considerable positive press coverage in 2014 upon the release of their debut album "The Day's War", and earlier this year put out their bid at 'the difficult sophomore record'. And in many ways, they stick to the formula of the debut, which demonstrated their prowess for sweeping, anthemic moods, yet was ultimately held down at the long end by a lack of variety. The new record "Things Will Matter" paints with noticeably darker nuances, but otherwise, deploy similar techniques.

Instrumentally, Lonely The Brave seem to draw inspiration from post-rock like that of a band like Moving Mountains, and on the new album, they've rendered their cinematic atmospheres in sort of a noise-rock/wall of guitar kind of production, which makes everything sound very fuzzy, loud, echoing and immersive. The band's penchant for music that surges, rouses and/or rallies, is complimented by singer David Jakes' lead vocal style, in which he shifts between two levels: an understated, round, British baritone and more fully belted and extended melodies for when the music kicks up a notch.

The thing about Lonely The Brave, though, across two albums now, is that they're sort of a 'just-barely-almost' kind of band, whose sound immediately makes you feel like there's great stuff in store, yet who frequently leaves you to wonder if things couldn't be resolved somehow more impressively than they are - a frequent impression one might add, that you get from bands that like to start loud and stay loud. And this is just one example of how, despite the album's lengthy fifty minutes passing by enjoyably in what feels like no time at all, what's really most interesting to talk about with this band, are all the little curious things that hold them back.

Because sure, the "plays like in a large cavern" production helps to set the atmosphere, alright, but when you really listen to the compositions on here, you wonder if it's necessary and whether the parts wouldn't have spoken for themselves well enough, if they sounded more clearly defined, less muffled and blended in with each other. And how about the lyrics? From the bits you make out the easiest, and from titles like "Things Will Matter" and "Strange Like I", it seems like Lonely The Brave have some sympathetic things to offer, but either because of lack of enunciation, diversity or just simple space in the compositions, your attention is bound to drift sort of to and from Jakes' lines, likely without piecing together the coherency.

Then there's the fact that the mellow, haunting piano of the intro track "Wait In The Car" is catchier than anything else on the album really, a curious imbalance, which begs the question why the band doesn't work with keys more frequently. The sequencing is also odd overall, with the tracks from two to seven, albeit all enjoyable tunes in their own right, blending together quite easily from similarity, with mainly the tempo to tell them apart. Then at track eight, the rampant "Radar" suddenly throws a curveball, followed by another in the starkly contrasting tranquility of "Tank Wave" - both tracks that could've been nice changes of pace to split up the other songs that were harder to tell apart. And speaking of tempo, by the way, another thing LTB could consider in order to have some extra variety to work with would be to maybe switch it up a bit more within separate tracks, even if the often hypnotically persistent paces do have something going for them for what that's worth.

All this being said, though, the impression lingers that Lonely The Brave is a nice musical acquaintance to make. It simply sounds unmistakably like music that can pick you up during hard times, which is a feeling you remember even if the separate songs might get blurry in your memory. And there are exceptions - highlights - of course: "Rattlesnakes" for instance, just gets in your head, giving you random urges to strike out your arms and just croon about vipers at awkward moments, while "Dust And Bones" also sticks its head out from the crowd of samey tracks via a nice drop away from the instruments towards the end, which is captivating and etches the line of "you won't kick the shit out of my dream!" into your mind.

Summing up: Good album, although not a perfect one. There are vibes that draw your interest, a couple of strong hooks to keep you returning and a number of weaker ones embedded in similar tracks, that nonetheless bid you welcome with familiarity when you come back. Some interesting, perhaps sub-optimal choices to think and talk about, yet ultimately an experience that is primarily endearing and should have you making a note to check out how the whole thing comes across live, if a good opportunity for doing so should present itself.

Download: Rattlesnakes, Dust & Bones, Wait In The Car
For The Fans Of: Moving Mountains, Union Sound Set, Young Guns
Listen: facebook.com/LonelyTheBrave

Release date 20.05.2016
Hassle Records

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