Friday, June 08, 2012

EASTER Innocence Man

Second verse / it’s always worse” claims the song ‘Pages’ on this the debut long-player from Easter. As Thomas Long describes in last month’s Q&A, the current line-up for his band is Easter Mark II. But those words hardly apply to the group themselves. The four-piece – Long on vocals and guitar, Danny Saul on guitar, Gavin Clarke on bass and Andrew Cheetham on drums – combine and spar in a way that speaks not just of laborious stretches of rehearsal-room jamming but of an intuitive click between the players. Their debut album "Innocence Man" is only six tracks long but what an epic, rich navigation lies within those half dozen, tersely titled songs.

The first two – the slow, caustic grind of ‘Somethin’ American’ and the choppy ‘Damp Patch’ – are the more traditionally structured ‘pop’ moments, built on 90s US alt-rock foundations – think a holy trinity of Sebadoh, Slint and Sonic Youth as the floor-plan. The following four songs on the album all swing upwards of six to eight minutes, and as well as those heavy hooks and riffs, the band add longer instrumental post-rock passages. It’s never a simple formula of loud-first-half-quiet-second-half. These denouements vary in length, dynamic and intensity, no doubt informed by the extra-curricular activities of the other players including earlier solo albums of experimental noise and stints in improvisation duos.

Thomas Long’s voice is flinty stern throughout but never wearied despite some bitter emotions and experiences: the 2pm drift and smash-your-head-against-the-brick existence of ‘Damp Patch’ (where those much quoted “
Crumpsall pipe-dreams” remain resolutely out of reach), the acrid scorn of ‘Never Me’ and the heart-ache and leave-takings of ‘Begin Again’. The guitars also spiral through many sounds, scales and moods –as well as angular riffs and chug they move from caterwaul and pained screech in ‘Never Me’, to fog-horn mournful in ‘Holy Island’, to long, aching chimes in ‘Begin Again’, contrasting beautifully with sombre cello on the latter.

“Innocence Man” is extraordinary listen: an immense, brooding and ruggedly beautiful journey, as monumental and carefully hewn as the carvings at Mount Rushmore or the implacable Victorian brickwork of Strangeways prison. Easter is, as per the name, a re-birth for this second line-up but it’s also the sound of potential realised. And how. Long goes on to sing in ‘Pages’: “
You haven’t seen the best of me yet”. What a dizzying prospect.

Innocence Man [BUY]

No comments: