Album Reviews

The Open – The Silent Hours

(Polydor) UK release date: 5 July 2004

The Open - The Silent Hours The Open are another band from the banks of the River Mersey. However, unlike their fellow Liverpudlians, The Coral and The Zutons, they deal in straightforward rock, leaving behind any nods to quirky pop. Also, and seemingly uniquely for a Liverpool band, they’re not produced by the ubiquitous presence that is Ian Broudie.

Instead, former Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde is behind the mixing desk, and his influence is written large throughout the album. There’s an epic, almost gothic atmosphere to many of the tracks here calling to mind bands such as The Verve, Doves and, but of course, mid-period Radiohead. While it all sounds very impressive, what can’t be denied is that The Open don’t yet possess the great songs that would put them up there in the musical stratosphere.

Raymonde’s production does work wonders though. Close My Eyes starts off slowly, a chiming guitar sounding over a stately piano before the song bursts into life. The chorus is almost stadium sized, and the song starts the album off on a cracking note. Bring Me Down is in much the same vein, with its frantic pace lending the song a very impressive atmosphere.

Problems only arise when The Open’s influences become too obvious. Lost has an guitar riff that The Edge may well have copyrighted before turning into an out-take from Radiohead‘s The Bends. The riffs sounds enormous, but it disguises the fact that there’s not much of a song there. The single Just Want To Live sounds too much like Doves for comfort, although it is redeemed by a mightily soaring chorus that would uplift even the most depressed of souls.

Coming Down goes for atmosphere over everything else, and although it sounds very pretty in an Elbow kind of way, it ends up drifting by in a rather insubstantial way. Step Into The Light, in comparison, is the most memorable tune on here, and is one of the most successful tracks on the album – an indication of how good The Open can be when they put their mind to it.

Although The Silent Hours has its moments, The Open don’t yet possess anything to suggest that they can successfully stand out from their contemporaries. However, songs such as the aforementioned Step Into The Light and the closing Elevation show that when they cut down on the overwrought atmospherics they can produce something special. A name to watch for the future, to be sure.

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The Open – The Silent Hours