Tuesday 28 August 2012

The Loom - Teeth

Album review by KevW

You there in America may already be well versed in the chamber-folk/indie hybrid concocted by New York quartet (although it sounds like there are about a dozen of them) The Loom, but us here in The Rest Of The World have had to wait an extra year for their album 'Teeth' to hit our stores, although I'm sure there will be many a fan with their ear to the ground who has already discovered their rustic delights by way of import or download. A name like The Loom summons up visions of the past; it feels old fashioned, and sure enough these songs are crafted from guitars, ukuleles, trumpets, French horns pianos and more. I think Skrillex can go to bed tonight knowing that his fanbase won't be deserting him for this gang of traditionalists. Traditional shouldn't, and doesn't, mean boring, and although 'Teeth' takes a few spins to digest it's ultimately worth it.

At first it feels quite one paced and one dimensional even though the songs are clearly well crafted. They may have had Queen's 'Who Wants To Live Forever' in the back of their mind when dreaming up the horn line to 'With Legs', but style-wise it's a different kettle of fish, bursting into a pastoral stomp halfway through. The choice of instruments and the choice to limit them instead of heading for Arcade Fire orchestral majesty works in their favour. The horns and the rumbling percussion of 'The Middle Distance' generate the perfect mood just as they are. The folk they explore on 'Helen' and 'The First Freeze' is reassuringly faithful to the genre's roots. The influx of more modern bands (Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, Mumford & Sons, Shearwater) embracing these sounds also has an influence on songs such as the proud and swelling 'For All My Friends In Spring, For All My Friends In Fall'.

'Teeth' is a wintry album, possibly due to the fact that their love of handed down rural folk traditions were originally a way to liven up those dark winter evenings. If you're reading this and already deciding these kind of sounds might not be up your street, then just stop for a minute and listen to tracks like 'In Your Doldrums' which steadily builds into a quite stately piece, or 'The Curtain Calls' which dabbles with similar alt-rock trickery that's made stars out of The National and their ilk (with added brass climax, naturally). If there is to be such a thing as alternative-psychedelic-chamber-folk-prog-rock then it should take 'For The Hooves That Gallop, And The Heels That March' as its genesis. The Loom have made a compelling album, one with majesty and grace but also the restraint to work within its limitations rather than add unnecessary augmentation, but it's not an instantly lovable piece. Give it time though, and you'll find plenty to get your teeth in to.

The Loom's website

Stream or buy the album

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