he easiest way to tell where a band is from is when they write their origin into their band name. In the case of Lancashire Lads, they reign from Lancashire, or more specifically from Leigh, a town in England. This group of five guys went all out on their first full-length album, Rising Sun. They have already touched on both sides of the length spectrum; their first EP was a slim four songs, while a hefty 16 tracks line this album. The first thing you notice when listening to the band is front man Jolli Holli's vocals. However, the one thing that makes the album stand out the most also plays a hand in its downfall. Though it is unique, his voice has a lull of contentment to it that puts its enjoyment at a happy medium. The heavier vocals have a way of droning on in a monotone fashion instead of taking listeners on a rollercoaster of pitches. Holli has a similar voice and the band a similar style to that of The Church and vocalist Steve Kilbey. The Lads' sound is not necessarily modern, though it is not outdated either. Their British pop/rock weighs in like a band out of the 80's.
The band's uniqueness does not stop and Jolli's vocals. Richard, who makes up the strings section of the band, is referred to as providing the "bowing," while Steve, who provides backup in the form of brass instruments, is said to supply the "blowing." These two sections - brass and strings, bowing and blowing - whatever you choose to call them, make up an imperative part of the band's sound.
The group fittingly introduce themselves with "Here I Am" and leave us with the final track, "At the End." "Here I Am" is frontloaded with a steady banter between verses and chorus, though the second half of the track is made up of a total of four repetitions of the chorus, which becomes fairly uninteresting after the second repetition or so. As you move further into the album you begin to notice this style pop up more and more. "At the End" is the same way, though it does not lean as heavily on the chorus as previous tracks. This use of brass instruments is a major element of the track, lending a jazzy, energetic tone to the piece.
Three tracks from the album - "Today is the Day," "History," and "Port Patrick" - actually also made up three fourths of the band's initial EP. "Today is the Day" is a hopeful track about living life to the fullest, "History" is about the difficulties of love and relationships, and "Port Patrick" taps into some Irish heritage and history. The varying tempos of "History" make it one of the most memorable tracks.
Production is used to a minimum on Rising Sun. Holli's voice is not always perfect and sometimes takes a turn off tempo from the melody, but there is still something to be enjoyed about that. It gives the essence of a live recording without all the excess background noise and inaccuracies that can come from being at a concert. Though the group has a personality that is quirky and light-hearted, which can be seen through their bio, and throughout their website, their music takes on a more mature tone. Whether they are posing philosophical questions as in "At the End" or giving a history lesson on European government in "Revolution," they always make sure listeners are able to take something away from their lyrics.
Artist: Lancashire Lads
Album: Rising Sun
Review by Alec Cunningham
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)