Aberfeldy - Somewhere To Jump From

iI’s grown up, got a beard and started working in a bank.

Aberfeldy’s new album - their first in four years, since leaving Rough Trade - could go one of two ways: either they keep the beauty and charm that made them the sort of band to make Stuart Murdoch look a brutish thug; or they try to ‘rediscover their sound’ and miss completely. Unfortunately, they’ve lost their Sarah Records invoking status and have tried to be who they think they were, making an album that sounds more akin to the radio hugging easy folk of The Coral or Mumford & Sons, rather than the twee sounds they were known for before.

That’s not to say Riley Briggs et al. have lost their ability completely – far from it, these songs are well made and well composed in their own way. The trouble is there’s no bite here. Whether it’s the loss of their two female members, or if they’re still reeling from losing Rough Trade, it just doesn’t seem to click. ‘Malcom’, for example, is a good track (Briggs’ voice brings to mind Justin Vernon’s in Volcano Choir), but it has lost everything about it that makes it beautiful - there’s none of that quaintness left; it’s grown up, got a beard and started working in a bank. Worst of all, it buys James Patterson novels from Waterstones.

When the zaniness does come in with songs such as ‘If I Were A Joiner’, it’s forced and clumsy, again sounding like they’re trying to recapture their former selves. The refrain, for example, “If I were a joiner / Know what I’d do / Put up a shelf / A shelf about you” sounds like a lazy attempt to create the same aura that they used to have, but ends up sounding stupid and nonsensical. It’s like Manic Street Preachers’ ‘Journal…’, an attempt to try and revive something that has been lost in age.

The only time where it really starts to work to any extent is where they experiment with disco, oddly enough. Taken on its own, ‘Lisa Marie’ is a decent homage to the Jackson 5 era. It’s a surprise to say the least – the preceding track ‘In Denial’ is a slow and boring ramble through some clichés with an acoustic guitar – but this track almost brings to mind a more pop version of MGMT’s first, or Empire of The Sun. It’s not a fantastic track, but in context it’s fascinatingly unusual and completely unexpected.

The album ends up being a disappointment then. It’s not bad per se, it’s just wallpaper instead of a sculpture – nothing stands out or shows itself to be anything more than boring plain and common.

Tags: Aberfeldy, Reviews, Album Reviews

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