Tuesday, 23 April 2013

THE B OF THE BANG - ALBUM REVIEW

The B Of The Bang - Tremors & Nosebleeds:
The Melodies of a Malady

The B of the Bang - Tremors & Nosebleeds: The Melodies of a Malady (Pie & Vinyl Records)

Release Date: 22nd April 2013

I had intended to get this review up online before it was released on Monday but, I confess, I became a little distracted. You see, Tremors & Nosebleeds: The Melodies of a Malady is not only a fantastically named album it is also an absolute masterpiece that demands your attention. This isn't just another album by a group of indie-kids with an obvious list of influences and a few good tunes padded out with throwaway tracks. What we have here is a genuinely exciting, enthralling and exhilarating collection of songs, each one of which would not be out of place on an album by far more established and critically acclaimed artists. What I hope to do here is not only convey the beauty of this record but also prepare you for falling in love with this record, because you will fall.  

The sumptuous vocal harmonies that herald the start of the album's opening track, 'Aim High', are like a call to arms or a call to prayer before the band swoop in to action to build a platform for front man Wit's seductive baritone vocal. 'Aim High' was the second single from the album and it's an obvious choice with its luscious soundscapes, themes of ostracism and self reflection as well as a huge chorus that could easily grace an Arcade Fire or Flaming Lips festival hit. 'Chemikals' follows with the seemingly cheerier tone of a slightly drunken brass band and the dour pop nous of Teenage Fanclub or Belle & Sebastian. I won't linger on that track though as just round the corner is track 3, 'The Forest [The Devil Is In The Dirt]'. This is one of the most genuinely dark, brooding and sexy tracks I have heard in a long time with a funky bass line, tight guitar strings and just two lines of lyrics that build seductively in the vocal harmony between Wit, Emily and Roxanne. By the unnervingly frantic climax of the song, you are begging the singers to breath as they relentlessly repeat the line "I can see the forest but I promise you will never again". Depending on your personal psychology, this song will either leave you feeling twitchy and scared or make you feel like a sexy, confident, Victorian vampire trying to add to your coven.

Mercifully, TBOTB turn the intensity down a notch on 'Sharks of the Atomic Atoll' which is a swooning, sweeping beauty of a song that has film soundtrack potential written all over it. Things take a turn for the sombre on 'Bungalow Town' but those male vs female vocal harmonies sound oh so beautiful over the mournful acoustic guitar notes. There is a hint of Country here and I challenge anyone to listen to this track without getting a lump in the throat, a tear in the eye and a nagging sense of regret about something long forgotten. Fortunately, these are good people and before you can reflect too much, the Southsea ensemble hit you with the more determined 'Canaries in the Coalmine' that sees the guitars take centre stage as strained and soaring notes intermingle with those trademark harmonies. Before the song ends there is a beautifully Muse-esque segue in to a stomping, throbbing, chest beating and riff laden climax with some beefy organ in the mix just to drive the point home. The first single of this album was 'Wander [Through The Night]' which is up next with its anthemic chorus and quirky, offbeat verses that conjure audible images of the National or little known but largely fantastic French band Puggy. TBOTB have so much bravery, energy, ingenuity and dedication to their art that they seem capable of taking on most genres and stamping it with their own style and seal of quality.

The B Of The Bang relaxing at Pie & Vinyl. Honestly, those
their 'relaxed' faces. 
'Something is Holding Me Down' starts as a gentle, almost whispered plea to the listener over soft but insistent acoustic guitar, heartbeat percussion and carefully selected piano key strokes. As you would expect by now, it's not long before the song builds in to a joyous cacophony with stormy cymbals and sustain-heavy guitars battling with the emerging confidence of the vocals and the defiance of the lyrics. By the end of the song, the emotion wrought from the instruments and directed at your soul via your ears leaves you drained, delirious and absolutely desperate for more. Don't hold your breath though, those pesky geniuses (geni-i?) are at again, hitting you in the face with the absurdly funky and upbeat 'Bring You Back' with its dual basslines and driving drums not giving you a hope in hell of remembering why you have tears in your eyes. The thing is, the music is absolutely magnificent, there's no doubting that, but what is most rewarding is that the lyrics are also worth listening to, worth devouring, worth getting scratched in to your school/work desk; "What if all your thoughts were based on false beliefs? And freedom was the antithesis of release? By process of osmosis I won't let it in. The barrier between my brain and blood is thin".

For the last two tracks, TBOTB indulge their dramatic souls and take you on an emotional journey that you won't forget in a hurry. In 'Home [Anywhere But Here]', they have created a festival closing, arms in the air, sing along rock power ballad with integrity, genuine emotion and brutal but beautiful force. It's a song to die for, a song to watch the world implode to or a song to leave town to, without ever, ever looking back. And just when you thought it was safe to put the tissues away, they go and play their trump card, 'This Will All Be Gone Tomorrow'. Played on an old, honky tonk Piano and sung in a remorseful, soft tone, you get the feeling that Wit is singing this to himself after everyone else has gone home. Such is the fragility of his voice and heaviness in the Piano that it can only suggest a man playing to an audience of one. The first time I listened to this album all the way through, I reached the solitary held bass note on the piano at the end and genuinely puffed out my cheeks, the way you do when you've just walked out of an argument or a particularly stressful day at work. There's no getting around it, this is an emotionally fuelled and emotionally challenging record but it is also absolutely beautiful and soul enriching. In just 11 tracks, merely 45 minutes, you experience hope, despair, love, loss, desolation and joy in abundance which can only be good for you. That's the message then: buy this album with whatever pennies you can scrape together because it is actually good for you. It will improve your life. There, I said it.

More information: www.thebofthebang.co.uk

Live dates:

14th May - The Black Dove, Brighton (Alternative Escape @ The Great Escape)
24th August - Portsmouth Dockyard (Victorious Festival)

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