Review by Zandra Klievens
The Strange Death Of Liberal England brought out their debut album ‘Forward March’, almost 3 years ago and made their mark for being an experimental pop/folk band. Having taken themselves out of view for a good 18 months they have been busy recording their new album, ‘Drown your Hearts Again’, a record which is carefully crafted and has a great sense of organic-ness.
The album seems to be a collection of songs that reflect the bands surroundings; the sea, the small town entrapment and makes good use of the local Richard P Horne Youth Orchestra. The band played live with the orchestra at a one off gig in Plymouth but tonight (and for the rest of the tour) ‘TSDOLE’ play as a five piece.
They start the set with ‘Curtain Falling’, a song which allows the band to make use of their full and immediate sound. The pacing and poppy vocals of Adam Woolway ring out over the crashing and rolling drums giving the song a real element of energy. It’s a good start and the rather aggressive nature of the song holds the audiences’ attention. Adam Woolway’s vocals are seeped in a sombre tone with a unique resonance which is one of the bands key ingredients in their original sound.
Whilst watching ‘Rising Sea’, I note that the personalities of the band shine through. Kelly Jones on bass and Andrew Wright on keys and xylophone work closely together in rather a reserved manner, whilst William Charlton seems to play his own part with a distance from the band.
There is a mixture of movement within the band and it’s nice to see that they haven’t conformed to ‘band uniform’, instead they seem happy to play for the plain sake of music rather than a show of peacockery and staged vanity which seems to be shelling through the music scene. The vocals in the song saunter and sound lovely, steadily building up, taking on different melodies and smudging them all together to make a mirage.
‘Lighthouse’, (the single) is powerful and heavy, with Adam Woolway’s vocals prominent and dark, strengthened by the other band members in the chorus parts. Although I feel that bassist, Kelly Jones’, vocals could be higher in the mix as her voice is coming through as a mere taint to the song rather then a distinct layer; much could said to be the same for William Charlton.
The militant drumming of David Lindsey is crisp and tight as the song falls into a more sparse sound which is then again joined by the full band, making a nice impression and driving end. They know how to orchestrate and the fact becomes very apparent as they know that dynamics and detail are key to atmosphere.
For a more sombre and reflecting song ‘autumn’ exposes a more cold sound. Wollway applies a more mellow tone to his voice, less forced and more natural and the sweet nature of Jones’ voice sifts through to create a nice fuzz. The rest of the band seem to enjoy the slower pace and seem to make to most of it.
Although most of the set played tonight is from their recent album, which makes full use of orchestration, the songs in the set do not lose any of their colour or depth, they just sound different, a sign of a good band who make the most of what they have.