Album Review: Guillemots – Walk the River

By on Wednesday, 13th April 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

For their third full record, Guillemots took some time out. Fyfe Dangerfield went and recorded a solo album, and the band as a whole had time to grow musically. It’s not been a long break for music for any of them, but their loyal fan base missed them. Two secret shows in London sold out in minutes as lovers of their first two albums flocked back to see where the band’s musical intentions now lay. In short, they’ve matured as lead single ‘The Basket’ will have let everyone know. Its soaring lines are harmonious rather than wild and it may well be the band’s best song to date.

When it gets down to the whole record however, it’s not quite as magical. ‘The Basket’ (video posted previously on TGTF) is the bright lights and fairy tales to a more refined selection of lamp-lit novels. Opener and title track ‘Walk the River’ really sets the scene for a more refined style of Guillemots that doesn’t cut away from older tracks, but will certainly stand out when played against music from the first two records. No more are Dangerfield’s howls a trademark of the band’s eccentricity, replaced instead by a set of vocal lines that showcase his extraordinary voice in full whilst not really allowing much from the band. There’s so much potential in these tracks that it’s almost tragic that much of it is allowed to be so unimpressive. To me, the best feature of Guillemots was how they could go completely mad with each track and still hold together a more than competent song and record. On ‘Walk the River’ however, some of this ambition appears to have gone as the band seem to have mellowed and taken a much simpler route with their writing. It makes for good sounding music, but it’s not as bold as it used to be.

Stand-out tracks are ‘Ice Room’, for still making Guillemots sound like a band capable of filling any room with an impressive sound-scape with power oozing from it; ‘I Don’t Feel Amazing’, for being simplistic and yet moving as the band have ever been musically and lyrically; and album closer ‘Yesterday is Dead’, for reasons I’m not even sure of. Away from this however, there’s definitely a mid-album lull. Luckily, it’s brought back from the edge by a well placed ‘Basket’.

With ‘Walk the River’, Guillemots are certainly back with a more grown-up sound and style that could see them move into the big time, but will their most loyal fans be thrown off by their lack of insanity?

6.5/10

‘Walk the River’ will be released on Monday (18 April) on Geffen. In the meantime, you can stream the tracks live, courtesy of the Hype Machine.

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