Album review

Turin Brakes : Ether Song

Turin Brakes : Ether SongWith the incredible chart performance of Pain Killer surprising everyone - not least the band themselves - Turin Brakes second long player seems to have arrived into a much more receptive atmosphere than The Optimist Lp ever did. About time if you ask me. I've long held the belief that Olly and Gale's gentle acoustic meanderings needed to be heard by the masses, and I've finally got my wish.
    Unfortunately, this new-found acceptance has been won at the cost of some of Turin Brakes' more endearing mannerisms. Olly Knights' careful over-enunciated nasal vocals have all but disappeared - Stone Thrown and Rain City accepted - and some of the compositions seem . . . well, a little safe in comparison with some of the debut's finer moments. It's not all gone Travis through; Gale Paridjanian's exquisite guitar work frequently surfaces above the strumming, including some slide guitar to die for spread throughout the whole CD.

Despite the criticisms, it's difficult to dislike a CD which contains songs of the quality of Long Distance - make an effort to check out the stunning video for this track if you haven't already - and the exultant Pain Killer - without doubt one of the best songs this pair have ever penned.
    Luckily the singles aren't the only highlights here. Opener Blue Hour manages to encapsulate one of Turin Brakes' most unique abilities: Songwriting that's at the same time both melancholy yet uplifting; the kind of songs that leave you feeling introspective yet happy. Self Help is yet another gem. Edgy vocal harmonies and lush strumming leave Turin Brakes towering above the majority of their peers. Not many bands can muster up this sort of talent when needed, but Olly and Gale seemingly have it embedded in their DNA.

I'll be honest; Turin Brakes' debut is one of the those CDs that for me has trancended merely great to become one of those few albums that gets pulled out when I need reminding how great music can be. The Police's Regatta De Blanc, Manic Street Preachers' Gold Against The Soul . . . you know the drill. Ether Song isn't quite up there with their debut, but today, it's good enough.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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