Dry The River
Alarms In The Heart
As debut albums go, I was a huge fan of the massed harmonies, soaring tunes and over-the-top production sound of Dry The River's Shallow Bed from 2012. Songs such as Lion's Den and Weights & Measures grew outwards and ever-upwards, snaring the listener with their emotional excess. The band from Stratford in East London were even better as a live experience.
Alarms In The Heart is a much more controlled affair, perhaps hastened by the departure of violinist William Harvey (whose contribution here, recorded earlier, is much subdued in the mix). To a large extent they have lost the folk element in their boisterous folk-rock frenzy, although the result - a superior indie-rock with shades of American band Shearwater - is very much the record they needed to make in order to rise to the next level.
Hidden Hand and Everlasting Light are more conscious attempts to write songs that deserve to dominate the airwaves, while Gethsemane and Vessel make the most of Peter Liddle's distinctive choirboy tenor voice and tendency towards Biblical allusions in his lyrics.
Queen Chemikal herself, Emma Pollock, duets on Roman Candle, one of a raft of guest spots and solo contributions to ensemble projects that she has pitched perfectly in recent years. Fingers crossed she will appear in person when the band play Oran Mor on October 8.