Friday, 14 June 2013

Sparrow & the Workshop - Murderopolis

Album review by

We're reliably told that the third album from Glasgow alt-rock group Sparrow & The Workshop "showcases a darker sound". Calling an album 'Murderopolis' and having an opening duo of songs named 'Valley Of Death' and 'Darkness' would certainly add weight to that theory, but in truth there's always been a shadowy and sometimes unsettling element to their music. Rather than being darker, 'Muderopolis' actually feels, if anything, ever so slightly more refined; a little like a car at the start of a new F1 season; a few extra tweaks to help it become more streamlined and efficient. Sparrow & the Workshop sound here like they've put in the extra effort, done those additional pre-release tests and produced their finest work yet.

You can still trace their lineage from PJ Harvey to The Duke Spirit and many in between, although rather than being a blend of these other artists, they're now standing on their own two feet entirely and matching the work of other acclaimed acts. Yes, you can pick out the odd hint of other bands (the aforementioned 'Valley Of Death' wouldn't sound out of place on a Metric album) but they ooze confidence from every pore on this album. The great thing about 'Murderopolis' is that it's anything but one-dimensional, and each track has its own marks of quality. Slower numbers like 'Odessa' and 'Water Won't Fall' have a mysterious feel to them and a close attention to detail with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. It seems that, although perhaps more instant, the choppy single 'Shock Shock' is actually one of the record's weaker tunes.

Some songs just beg to be listened to through headphones, loudly. There is impressive work here, and the biggest highlights come in 'Darkness' with its speaker-worrying chorus; 'The Faster You Spin' is more conventional rock but it doesn't half contain some power; they hit some real quality on the expertly executed 'Avalanche of Lust', and 'Flower Bombs' has a chorus that's just begging for a single release. Another potential single, should they wish to opt for something with a bit less grunt but that's no less impressive, could be 'The Glue That Binds Us'. They even round up the album with a song that sounds like a proper end-track too. 'Autumn to Winter' is a little more pensive and is suitably grand; it could be 'Murderopolis'' crowning moment even. Sparrow & the Workshop have unquestionably come up with the goods on this one.

Sparrow & the Workshop's website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album

Catch them live:

14 Jun Neu! Reekie! 34 @ The Poetry Club (Next to SWG3), Glasgow
22 Jun Insider Festival, Aviemore
23 Jun Glastonferret @ The Mad Ferret, Preston
24 Jun The Lexington, London
25 Jun Exchange, Bristol
26 Jun Trof Fallowfield (FREE ENTRY), Manchester
29 Jun James Yorston with Sparrow @ SWG3, Glasgow
28 Jul Stockton Calling Festival, Stockton Weekender Festival

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