In terms of a musical comparison the sense of occasion I got from this mighty opus was similar to that after afirst listen to Mansun‘s debut album Attack Of The Grey Lantern, a form of music that hit you between the eyes and refused to be daunted by trivial things such as genre restriction or rules.
Rules? Certainly not. For Cautionary Tales’ is that rarest of contradictions, a “concept EP”, the six tracks clocking in justshy of half an hour. A lot happens in that time, a sense of invention combining well with the band’s assured stature.
As intimated there are elements of Mansun, and Kasabian and Oceansize could also be name checked, but it would be unfair to deny the band their moment of original glory, for they forge their own path from the most impressive melody just a minute in, grandiose for sure but without pretension.
The tracks segue into one another, the main themes recurring at the end, and the track titles and artwork hint at an Ancient Greek tale, the real subject in fact a study of passing from dreaming into wakefulness. Heady harmonies herald The Bright Ambassadors Of Morning – Jeff Lynne would have been proud – and then follows a mantra with slowly building effects and guitars, piled up like stones.
Out of the wreckage that ensues the mantra comes again, but even this is not enough, the band picking up for some weighty riffing action in the coda. At the Ambassadors Return the music completes its cycle, the euphoric vocals return, and the whole work subsides into silence.
This is all done without great exaggeration or arrogance by the band – sure, production and length are both excessive but not needlessly so, and you know the effects used aren’t just employed for the sake of it – they compliment the musical material. The principal duo of melodic themes are hugely memorable, not even requiring development, whilst the guitar work isalso top drawer.
Nor do the band look like resting on the laurels of the musical styles they’ve explored so far. A read of their website reveals additional, diverse influences from 60s pop and barbershop to the Chemical Brothers. All will no doubt be fighting for position to be included on the next record, which is already a must-hear, as this is one of the most exciting debuts you’ll come across this year.