Wednesday 12 March 2014

Spring Offensive - Young Animal Hearts

Album review by

Oxford group Spring Offensive have done a sterling job of building up anticipation for their debut album. Formed back in 2009, they've spent the last year or so dropping tracks here and there and playing gigs (we caught them live last summer) and generally putting in solid foundations. It's a big risk releasing an album from nowhere and with a small fanbase, so they've wisely put in the time both to ensure that the material is up to scratch and also to ensure that plenty of people will be waiting to hear 'Young Animal Hearts', and of course, knowing a few singles from an album helps with those first few listens until the rest of the songs become familiar and sink in properly. Perhaps their approach could be a good path for other new acts to follow.

So, we've heard the singles, we've heard a lot of the album live, and they have a big following for a non-mainstream (at the moment at least) band who've yet to release a record. Can they repay the faith and expand on the promise over eleven tracks? That's easy to answer after just the first couple of spins. Naturally, every band will find that some folk aren't interested (if you only really listen to dubstep then this won't be for you), but anyone who's liked any of their material up to this point will be more than happy with the results. Perhaps it's the time they've had, or perhaps it's just a high standard of quality control and natural talent, but this set off guitar-pop tunes is about as consistent as they come: you won't find any filler here.

Only opening track 'Not Drowning But Waving' extends much past the four-minute mark, and the reason for this is to set the tone; it feels a little like the calm before the storm. Spring Offensive don't fill these songs will needless indulgence or try and milk ideas until the fun is stripped away. Then they come: a constant stream of inventive, individual and occasionally quirky indie-type tunes, pretty much all of which could be a single. 'Bodylifting' is both smart and playful musically, and has a memorable chorus; the stop/start verses and sweeping chorus of recent single 'Hengelo' sound even better surrounded by other songs; the same could be said of the less immediate but jut as worthy 'Speak', another one with a chorus that will burrow into your brain.

There's something both reflective and soothing about 'Cut The Root'. I'm struggling here to decide which song would make the best choice for next single, put any of these on the radio and they'll sound as though that's what they were made for. The constant avoidance of generic indie has to be applauded, there's a lot to be said for bringing in different idea, even if the overall sound is hardly revolutionary. The chorus of voices on 'Carrier' offer some nice variation and a different vibe without breaking the flow; inner torment is dealt with on the uptempo but lyrically eerie 'Something Unkind; '52 Miles' also sees them step back and look at more serious matters, but it's a highlight and an impressive atmosphere is created. Finally, the sprightly title-track wraps things up and gives us more single material. The Spring Offensive has begun, and we like it.

Spring Offensive's website

Buy the album

Catch them live:

FRI 14 MAR Geleen Calling, Geleen, Netherlands
SAT 15 MAR Ekko, Utrecht, Netherlands
MON 17 MAR Ono, Bern, Switzerland
TUE 18 MAR Amboss Rampe, Zürich, Switzerland
WED 19 MAR OstPol, Dresden, Germany
THU 20 MAR Kulturhaus 73/ Kleiner Donner, Hamburg, Germany
THU 20 MAR Between The Beats 2014, Lörrach, Germany
FRI 21 MAR Amp, Münster, Germany
SAT 22 MAR Between The Beats Festival, Lörrach, Germany
SAT 22 MAR Burghof, Lörrach, Germany
SUN 23 MAR Darmstadt, Germany
MON 24 MAR Privatclub, Berlin, Germany
TUE 25 MAR E-Werk Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany
THU 24 APR Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London, UK
SAT 31 MAY Way Back When Festival, Dortmund, Germany
SUN 01 JUN Maifeld Derby Festival, Mannheim, Germany

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