Album Review: Dry the River – Shallow Bed

By on Thursday, 15th March 2012 at 4:30 pm

They say the most important element of a good comedy act is timing, the same thing can be said of a good album. Nowadays it’s commonplace for a band to come out all guns blazing and smash through an intro track, then the lead single, then a backup single, then seven tracks of filler material. After 12 minutes you’re left underwhelmed, bored and just wishing the LP would hurry up and get back to the ‘good bits’. But just as good comedians are rare but worth waiting for, as are records.

London-based quintet Dry the River have released their debut album that isn’t in a rush to get anywhere. Yes, there’s a climax and a fantastic story is told throughout, but it’s not a mad rush of clanging and strumming to showcase just how catchy they can be. The love story told during the 50 minutes of ‘Shallow Bed’ is much more engaging than anything the radio fodder guitar bands have released in years.

The sound is one of serenity and passion that lends itself to frontman Peter Liddle’s tale of happiness, heartbreak and hope. Starting with ‘Animal Skins’, Liddle’s beautiful falsetto voice lends itself perfectly to the whimsical, floaty nature of Dry The River’s inherently calm music. But as the record progresses Liddle’s lyrics become the focal point that really elevate them above their peers. Descriptions of “dancing to the shipping forecast” with his partner conjure images of adoration and the unmitigated devotion he feels.


Musically the band create monumental soundscapes that are truly impressive. The blend of guitars, drums, a violin and Liddle’s unmatched vocal ability are responsible for a stadium-sized sound that doesn’t sprint to the finish line but takes in its surroundings and gives its all for the full marathon. The huge swelling choruses of ‘Shield Your Eyes’ and ‘The Chambers and the Valves’ (previous Video of the Moment here) stand out against the usual indie-rock twaddle, and ‘Demons’ is so wonderfully hypnotic with its choir-like vocals that you struggle not to get sucked into the love story unfolding before your ears.

The story takes a downward turn, though, toward the end shortly after lead single ‘No Rest’ in which Liddle emotionally declares he “loved you in the best way possible”. Despite it becoming increasingly clear the previous songs of finding love are going to crumble, the sound is oddly uplifting. ‘Weights and Measures’ is the epitome of the break up as he finally admits its gone, even though he was “prepared to love you, I never expected anything of you”. Whether you’re currently single or in a relationship, this song will undoubtedly remind you of someone you are/were close to – and that’s the point of the album. Although on the surface it’s just one man’s struggle with his feelings, it’s something everyone can relate to. Whether it’s one who got away at school or even a messy divorce, the idea of love is so universal that it can be felt by everyone for anyone and music written about this ideal of unimaginable compassion is for everyone.


Dry the River’s debut album ‘Shallow Bed’ is available now from RCA.

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3 Responses

12:34 pm
19th March 2012

love love love Dry the River lately! can’t wait to see them live in NYC on the 23rd. expecting a seriously great live show!

1:56 am
28th March 2012

Your Comments First modern band I’ve liked for so many years! Super stuff!

12:42 am
2nd April 2012

I can’t wait for “Shallow Bed” to get released here in the US on 4/17. The moment I saw the video for “Weights & Measures” I knew that I had stumbled upon an amazingly talented band. Thanks for the review.

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