We Have Band - Ternion

They promised a great leap forward, and this isn’t it.

Ricky Wilson may not be the first person who springs to mind when you think of wise old sages, but he’s authored some absolute nuggets in his time. “We realised early on that if you can still see the bandwagon, then you’ve already missed it” neatly summed up his group’s transformation from Britpop wannabees Parva to the all-conquering (for a while) behemoth that was the Kaiser Chiefs, and it’s hard to argue with this logic. Unfortunately there are those who, despite staring forlornly at its tyre tracks as it vanishes over the horizon, still try to hitch a ride, and it’s hard not to view We Have Band as the ugly bridesmaid, thumb aloft, stuck forlornly at the side of the road.

Trailing in the wake of Little Boots, La Roux et al with their debut in what proved to be the tail-end of our electro-pop fascination was either very brave or very dumb, as contemporaries such as Delphic and Chew Lips would no doubt attest. ‘WHB’ had a few decent moments but ultimately came across as a patchwork of ideas lacking a singular vision. That it sounded like a medley of everyone else vaguely successful around that time wasn’t helped by the suspicion that, as ex-EMI employees, they had been fatally imbued with that major label habit of following, not leading.

Returning with “Ternion”, it’s clear from opener ‘Shift’ that they’ve had a rethink. Gone are the dance floor sing-alongs and raucous choruses, replaced instead with a dark and brooding sensibility. Synths are used far more sparingly, and when they do surface, they buzz and drone. Rhythm is king here, as evidenced by both an extensive sonic palette of skittering drums that Radiohead would be proud of and driving, incessant bass lines, forever pushing the songs onwards. At their best, this gives us the taut groove of ‘Tired Of Running’, apparently already a live favourite. At their worst, we’re left with the bizarre ‘Steel Is In The Groove’ – a repetitive, two-note riff punctuated with weird spacey interludes that never goes anywhere. It’s clearly meant to be an ambitious mix, but comes across instead as a confused muddle.

This perhaps sums up Ternion’s greatest problem – it just doesn’t know what it wants to be. Influences are worn so clearly here that it’s relatively easy to figure out what they must have on their iPhones. ‘Shift’ and ‘Where Are Your People?’ both owe a debt to Foals and math rock in general, while ‘Visionary’ betrays more than a hint of Peter Hook’s Joy Division bass. The guitar tone currently so beloved of everyone from The Drums to The Maccabees is sprinkled liberally throughout and, along with a dispassionate delivery and vocals bereft of emotion – something all the more intriguing when you consider their inspiration and subject matter – gives everything a thoroughly modern, and very now, sheen.

Trouble is, it leaves everything feeling a little cold, and by the time ‘Rivers Of Blood’ flows into view, the monotonous intonation of Thomas Wegg-Prosser has long since left you bemoaning the lack of melody. They’ve upped the tension by ripping out the joy, and although a more mature, grown up effort, the lack of any standout tracks and the joie de vivre of ‘WHB’ makes it a somewhat underwhelming listen. Perhaps they need to trust their instincts more, or perhaps they just need to stop trying to hitch that ride. Either way, they promised a great leap forward, and this isn’t it.

Tags: We Have Band, Reviews, Album Reviews

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