Monday 29 July 2013

Ketch Harbour Wolves - Queen City: Volume One

Album review by

From Denver to Auckland to Manila and far more besides, there are plenty of places with the nickname 'Queen City', so really this album could resonate with many people across the globe as a tribute to the place they live. For Ketch Harbour Wolves though, 'Queen City: Volume One' is written about the place they call home: Toronto. It sounds like it too, the band's third album is one that has traces of many other North American bands in its make-up. You can hear a little Arcade Fire from time to time, moving further south you'll find hints of Interpol and The National, there's even the odd moment that reminds you of UK band Doves.

It's lyrically that this album is most tied down to Toronto though, and not being an expert on the city I'll leave it to the natives to play spot the reference. These eight songs all have a similar feel to them and a similar sound, yet each one is put together by a group who all seem to be reading from the same page, so in that respect it comes across as entirely natural, as though the tracks were floating around, fully-formed, just waiting for Ketch Harbour Wolves to pluck them from the air and commit them to tape. There's an almost grandiose appeal to 'Pulled From The Wreckage', but it's one that unfurls itself after a handful of plays; it could be said that the album in general sounds best once it's been given time to grow on you.

Keeping much the same pace throughout doesn't detract from this, the standard of both writing and recording is high. Songs like 'The Good Blood', 'The Angelus' or the epic '1992' would receive high praise if they'd been released by a better known band, but that's something that Ketch Harbour Wolves have the ability to become. There's a different feeling to 'Signs Were Everywhere', one that's difficult to pinpoint, but the vocal style is different (as it is on the Prince goes alt-rock of 'Through A Glass Darkly' with its lovely sweeping strings) and it adds some diversity, especially as it's followed by the alt-country-infused 'Should Have Learned'. Perhaps to show that there will be the continuity that the album title suggests, we end with 'The Beginning' and its refrain of "this is just the beginning". At just eight tracks it could appear on the surface that you're not getting your money's worth from 'Queen City: Volume 1', but then what would you rather have? A dozen songs with two or three that will have you reaching for the skip button, or this many that are rock solid in quality? I know what I'd prefer.

Ketch Harbour Wolves' website

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