Rebel Cinema Records [Release date 13.09.19]
Labels are useful but can also be disingenuous, as is the case of the new album from “indie rock band” Flight Brigade. ‘Chased by Wolves’, the latest offering from the Hampshire-based seven-piece, creates a sonic landscape that cannot be easily categorised under one genre. Enlisting the production skills of Chirs Porter, who has worked with everyone from David Bowie to Cliff Richard, ‘Wolves’ is an album of cinematic stories, that finds Flight Brigade quite happily dipping into whatever they care for in the sonic toolbox.
Opening track ‘Heartbreaker’ is a dark story about infidelity; with industrial drums and driving guitar, it favourably evokes a-ha and demonstrates a band unafraid to embrace catchy pop. Continuing into the next track, ‘Chased by Wolves’ has a hooky chorus while still dealing with dark subject matter about fear. There are also some ethereal backing vocals blending seamlessly with lead singer Ollie Baines calling to mind synth group, Chromatics.
It is a testament to the arrangements that despite some quite melancholic territory the songs never become mawkish. Written after the funeral of a friend’s father, ‘Fury Road’ is about the speed at which life flies by and instead of being slow and contemplative is fast and celebratory, with thick guitar and heavy keyboards.
This approach continues on album centrepiece, ‘Brainwave’ about lead singer Ollie’s late brother’s experience with epilepsy; “For a minute there it was a touch and go, as a thousand volts rush from head-to-toe”. The song builds to a cacophony of noise, presumably mirroring what it can be like experiencing the condition, but here again the lyric doesn’t revel in pain and eventually arrives at an optimistic place, “if you stay with me, it will be alright”.
‘Chased by Wolves’ evidences a band that is keen to embrace high concepts and weave stories throughout their songs. Occasionally this can be to their detriment, as on the slightly plodding ‘Alligators’, but as pop music can often be reduced to simple boy-meets-girl tales, Flight Brigade should be commended for thinking big and creating real narratives. ***½
Review by Phillip Beamon
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