Album Reviews

We Have Band – Ternion

(naïve) UK release date: 30 January 2012

If prizes could be awarded for sheer variety of sonic scope, We Have Band would nab every one going. For the dynamic two lads ‘n’ a lass trio, their sophomore effort Ternion plays out as a mish-mash of clever indie ingenuity, electronica and synth-pop; but even that doesn’t do them justice – because, frankly speaking, just so much is going on in every track. Like a zoo of assorted instruments let loose, Ternion’s disparate elements are free to play to their own devices.

From early beginnings winning an emerging talent competition at Glastonbury in 2009 through to remixing the likes of Bloc Party and OMD, the London-based group almost set out on a mission to remain coyly elusive in terms of their definitive sound. If you can think of it, chances are it’s woven into the tapestry of Ternion somewhere. The real trick is to pin everything down – a loose jigsaw of collected influences, We Have Band slot together ideas like a Jenga column – something teetering, often ungraspable, but always entertaining.

Opening with the sparing, tactile sensitivity of Shift, the band unwrap a rich, varied, soundscape for the rest of the album to then populate. Along with closing number Pressure On, these spacious, eerie wedges of electronic soup bookend the album neatly – beautiful in the oddest of senses, both tracks resound with a sense of throbbing, alien awe.

Lead single Where Are Your People comes packing Peter Hook-style bass – the group feel alive, motivated by an ersatz live-wire energy that flickers through the circuits of their consciousness. It’s this self-same energy that manifests itself here, propelling the tracks outward like a pellet from a sling. It’s intense, introspective, but with an inner confidence that comes with an acceptance of individuality – it’s that tripping over the borderline between shy awkwardness to the cusp of a refreshed outlook on life that We Have Band so neatly accomplish.

Tired Of Running is the big for-radio record and the album’s most commercial moment by far – the warmth of the production is deliciously gripping, fizzy synths spritzing up against machine-shop beats and slick vocal hooks. Funky guitar licks twitch away loose and messy beneath a heady manifesto of intent: “Honesty’s all you’re worth, use it to free yourself.” And freedom is indeed abound within the record – an abandonment of anything other than the most involving of aspects; there’s a sense of communal joy to the way Ternion incorporates so many sounds and offers itself as so alluringly inviting.

What’s Mine, Not Yours is a delightful synth-pop gem, like vintage Depeche Mode but underpinned by a whip-crack disco beat that promptly erupts into fuzzy guitar riffs. Steel In The Groove, the album’s real dance-floor moment, conjures up visions of neon-stained Hoxton venues, dripping in Aftershock and teeth-on-edge synthesizers.

Like Hot Chip on acid or a more meaty, full-bodied Metronomy, We Have Band mine that same deep vein of geek pop, and if anything, Ternion stands as testament to a real ‘throw-everything-in’ mentality. What’s remarkable is how well it all works – no glitches, no hiccups, just 10 tracks of mind-broadening quirk.

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