Album Reviews

South – With The Tides

(sanctuary) UK release date: 29 March 2004


From start to finish, there’s only one thing you’ll get out of this album and that’s the ability to float. Or at least feel like you can. Every track is so laid back, in an indie / alt-rock fashion, that after listening to it, it’s hard to get up.

“Take all the time in the world, all the time you deserve,” as suggested in Fragile Day, is advice that feels like it’s been taken up on. Like most albums of this sort, it creeps up the back alley rather than hits you in the face with a sledgehammer and manages to mentally elongate the time you spend listening to it.

Opener Motiveless Crime is a song with touches of David Gray and Starsailor that somewhat contradicts the slower pace of the majority of the album – but that should not be said as if to boast a negative.

Throughout every song, an orchestra can be heard in a way that manages to produce a beautiful, uplifting and patriotically biased – make that British – sound that, with the current success of Keane and Snow Patrol, should rival the American rock wave that has proven to be so popular in the past year.

As simple as it may seem, the vocals are, in my eyes, set to confuse. Upon listening to With the Tides, they seem to alter in various stages. A Thom Yorke moment is reached in Loosen Your Hold, a Tommy Scott one in Fragile Day and by track seven, I’m convinced that Bono is guest appearing on the album. A weird set of transitions, which inevitably shun the overall identity of the band.

Voice, however, is not the only thing challenging the band’s individuality. The entire first half of the album can be traced back to different bands – Colours In Waves is reminiscent of one-time rockers Semisonic, Same Old Story can be compared to newcomers stellastarr* and Loosen Your Hold opens with a guitar riff similar to that of The Stranglers‘ Golden Brown.

The latter half of the album, though, is truly their own. Still employing the indie approach, Mend These Trends to the finisher Threadbare drift off into oceans that can only be compared to certain bands rather than actually leading South to be sued for copyright.

If you’re looking for an album that’s set to curve the way of the music industry with a new, ultimately unique sound then you’ll be disappointed. However, if a mid-’90s indie-inspired chillout album is all you require then you’ve come to the right place.


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More on South
South – Adventures In The Underground, Journey To The Stars
South – With The Tides
South – From Here On In