A reasonably new band from northern England, this – although at least one of the band members has prior involvements in other bands, and from the packaging, and the slick design and sound of the whole CD, it is clear even to the casual listener that this is a band that know what they are doing.
Quite what they are aiming for, though, is another matter. Their sound falls squarely in the realms of “futurepop”, however you see that being. Moderately pulsing beats, strong vocals and melody, with lots of emotion. The problem with this, though, is that it is a crowded playing field, and to get your head above the parapet you really need an ace up your sleeve.
On the showing of this album, I can’t yet work out if they have that ace. After a typically sweeping intro brings in the opening track Searchlight, immediately the ghosts of VNV Nation and Assemblage 23 rear their heads, especially in the vocals, and following track Exocet makes the link even clearer. Which is a shame, as it really is a strong track. The beats are further up in the mix, the vocals really strong, with a cracking chorus.
This basic pattern is followed for much of the album, which makes Isolate all the more precious – the one time where the rulebook is torn-up and thrown away, resulting in a twinkling, shimmering ballad with a perfectly-matched female vocal that shows there is more to this band when they try.
And that’s the problem. Even while the likes of the bands above are between albums, producing what is yet another identikit “futurepop” album is really not enough. Too many scenes have stagnated due to second rush of new bands following the pioneering work of the first wave. What is needed are bands willing to try something new, to push the envelope. There are small glimpses of just what they can do here, and that they can push it further – just not enough to fully convince this time around.