Album Reviews

The Most Terrifying Thing – Victoriana

(Seeca) UK release date: 30 January 2006

The Most Terrifying Thing - Victoriana If you had to place The Most Terrifying Thing after one listen, chances are it wouldn’t be in Liverpool, and in all probability not the UK either. No, the first place that springs to mind is Seattle, due to a couple of traits essential to the music of this quartet.

The first comes from singer Chris Price, whose voice sounds something like a combination of Counting Crows and early Eddie Vedder, and is one of the band’s most marketable qualities. The second is a little less complimentary – a tendency to rely on the quiet-loud formula that has characterised rather too much rock music of this ilk since Nirvana. More worrying than this, though, is the opening track’s alarming tendency to do a Nickelback with the lyrics; “I don’t expect you to understand, but I was programmed to be alone”. It’s just as well the navel gazing ends there, or we might have been considering the frightening thought of Britain’s answer to Chad Kroeger.

If you like the Canadian rockers, my apologies. Stick around though, as you’ll like what you hear on this record, only with arguably much higher quality. Once into their stride, The Most Terrifying Thing show a pleasing tendency to rock out with natural abandon, no airs or graces needed. Programmed demonstrates this in an agreeably powerful coda that takes up the mantle, embellished by Silent Type’s impressive guitar work, found again towards the close. This is one of several songs that benefit fromPrice’s direct vocal singing, and when he complains; “I feel left out, no-one knows this”, you feel his pain.

The band clearly know a good intro when they hear one, and some of the tracks punch out a solid beginning as a statement of intent. Recent single Things Always Change is a case in point, but here as elsewhere there is also a fragile side. Price’s voice cracks with emotion when dealing with Pain & Problematics – and also on Always In The Way – which may have an awkward word setting but is curiously effective. Sometimes it all gets too much though, and an attempt to funk things up on Tiamo falls flat, seemingly a tale of a couple who can’t decide if they’re better off as friends but ending up dropping between the two.

The only problem with this is it feels like music that’s been around for quite some time. Plenty to commend the songs for sure, but the musical language would have seemed much more relevant in 1995. Eleven years on, and solid though the riffing is, it feels just a touch weary. A bit more rhythm, for sure, but the central part of the album in particular remains earthbound.

This shouldn’t put you off from investigating the band though, as the positives outweigh the negatives comfortably. Tracks like Silent Type genuinely lift the senses to a higher plane, and if the band can build on this promise, their development will be interesting to chart. One to keep on the radar.

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The Most Terrifying Thing – Victoriana