They say time brings change, that nothing ever stays the same. And it’s true, just ask Welsh rock mob Funeral For A Friend. The band have continued to grow ever since their startlingly brilliant debut Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation, so much so that frontman Matt Davies forayed effectively into alt-country land as part of side project The Secret Show just a mere couple of months ago.
It’s s a progression that’s seeped whole-heartedly into the bands latest release, the battle-ready, all hands on deck ride that is Tales Don’t Tell Themselves.
It’s safe to say many would – and doubtless will – scoff at the mere idea of a concept record based upon a lonely fisherman, lost at sea miles away from his wife and kids. But the Valley boys make it work, and work reasonably well too. This is Funeral For A Friend stepping outside the proverbial box, and though it’s still relatively light years away from the ‘landish offerings of a Muse or a Nine Inch Nails, Davies and Co go as far as to include a 26-piece orchestra on the likes of Into Oblivion (Reunion) and The Sweetest Wave, something nigh-on unheard of for a once mere post-hardcore troupe.
Whilst they don’t, at times, perhaps utilise the orchestra (and accompanying choir) as well as they could do throughout Tales 40-odd minutes, the likes of The Great Wide Open and Out Of Reach remain sharp, buzz-saw anthems full of powerful intensity and smart lyricism, and whether it be the stuck-at-sea worryings of Open Water or The Sweetest Wave, with it’s hopeful outcry and gloriously sporadic output, it’s only after a while that you realise just how big an album Tales Don’t Tell Themselves truly is.
The excellent One For The Road showcases the band in fine fettle; a top-down, open-road ride through big power chords and infectious harmonies, it’s undoubtedly one of the best songs the band have ever produced. Aside from the obvious standouts, the more melancholy On A Wire and sweeping Walk Away both see Davies, amongst others, on top form – with the latter in particular recalling the campfire vocals of the aforementioned Secret Show.
It’s an album beset with massive soundscapes, utilising gargantuan chorus upon gargantuan chorus, yet, somewhere along the line it seems to have lost a little of the bite that made the band such an initial success way back when. And that’s because the songs here aren’t as naggingly instant as Hours’ favourites Streetcar and Monsters, rather the 10 tracks that make up Tales Don’t Tell Themselves brief-though-engaging narrative are deeper, more accessible offerings that need those vital extra two or three listens to really sink in.
So, what you waiting for?