If ever there was an album that took it’s time getting out of bed on a Sunday afternoon this is it. Ambulance LTD’s debut has that untainted louche vibe to it that smacks of bed-hair and fingers still warm from jamming the night away. But don’t let that fool you, at work here is a group of immensely talented and mature musicians with an ear for a rousing melody.
From the outset the album achieves an understated vitality. There’s a vigour in the music that sounds like it’s just had a hot shot of coffee to get going. Opening track Yoga Means Union stretches out into a mellow rock n roll instrumental ala Spiritualized but with more oomph. It fleetingly drifts into Mogwai territory but ends with some metal riffage. It’s a long and drawling guitar moment that lolls you into their little world and sets the scene for the variety of styles that awaits you.
Yes there’s a restless spirit that inhabits the album. Where fellow New Yorkers The Strokes and The Bravery have put themselves on a well-defined plinth, Ambulance LTD are sort of hopping from stone to stone, one time fancying a bit of a drum-shuffling Coral-esque melodies in Anecdote, with a whisper of Rod Stewart‘s Young Hearts Be Free Tonight, while they bow down to a shiny reverb-laden early Ride/My Bloody Valentine vibe in single Stay Where You Are, though it’s no so much shoe-gazing as staring at your sneakers.
What remains constant is Marcus Congleton’s distant sounding vocals, like he’s singing in the bathroom while his band mates are in the studio. His timbres are such though that he at times has a devil-may-care attitude in his voice as in the gritty single Primitive (The Way I Treat You), used on the O.C. soundtrack no less, while at other times he sounds like a poetic but saccharine-sweet college teen.
A quarter of the way through the album’s sonic twists and turns, we come across shimmering guitars in a hooky-riff heaven. Heavy Lifting is fuzzy with honey-slick singing, while Sugar Pill breathes with dusty dark-stringed bass and guitars which seem to bypass slick studio production. Stay Tuned is another delve into the band’s nineties indie sound.
But then by the end the band gently place you back in your nest with Young Urban, a mellow melliflous number and hidden track 12, Straight A’s.
For those who have heard the two singles, they are certainly not the best on the album – in fact dull in comparison to the rest. As a whole the album is one of the best debuts I’ve heard. It isn’t just the plaintively euphoric melodies, the mix of acoustic and electric guitars, the sometimes subtle, other times spotlighted bass, or shuffling drums. It’s the mini narratives as though you’ve tapped in mid-way through their romantic lives and youth-tinted observations. It’s the creamy verses and the knock-em-dead rousing choruses. It’s a journey that takes you both to camp-fire singalongs and down midnight motorways. This band have something special. Don’t miss out.