Pocket Promise - I've Been Here For Ages

Owain Paciuszko 06/09/2009

Rating: 3/5

Following on from their two fantastic single releases earlier this year comes the full length LP from Northern Ireland indie-pop outfit Pocket Promise; these four chaps craft big, lush indie ballads in the vein of early Snow Patrol and occasionally dabble in slick, rock outs with a dash of pre-electro Soulwax.

Opening here with the tender If Not The Tide Will Change, which does a good job of off-setting its swoonsome verses with some edgy guitar; it also starts to showcase little bursts of lush arrangment with a dash of violin creeping in elegantly and Cormac Fee's lead vocal strong and powerful whilst keeping the emotion of the lyrics in mind.

Next up was lead single I Burnt The Roller Disco which is still as relentlessly fun and cheeky as it was on first listen. Infectious and somewhat daffy, it stands out on the record as a very different side to the band. Sum Of The Parts toys with erratic guitar sound and scatty drumming and lyrically signals a slight obsession with conversation. It's chop-change attitude makes it a promising third track, suggesting a wealth of variety for the rest of the album, but, as a song alone, there's both too little and too much going on to really make a dent.

Something Unreal starts with distant, muted drumming, mixed with mournful strings and wide-eyed twinkles, before Fee's vocal breezes in with a warm, fragile arrangement of backing vocals cooing the title. But, like the track before, it ammounts to nothing, drifting out as quietly as it arrived. Things perk up once more with second single TalkOverTalking which jangles along with shiny indie-pop bluster as effortlessly as Nada Surf at their best, lyrics disecting the intricacies and awkwardness of relationships artfully and Fee's vocals particularly impressive over the fretboard squeal, juicy bass and head-nod-inducing drumbeat. It's the kind of perfectly packaged song that could almost be used as a trailer for the band.

With piano and guitar jostling neatly Inside Out sounds a touch similar to Ed Harcourt on pop troubadour form, all rambunctiously bright yet scuzzy. Sorry pairs its sweet acoustic guitar line and bobbing bass against folkish percussion to endearing effect. Clocking in at just shy of seven minutes its an ambitious and under-stated track by the band that gets by mainly on good graces, taking its time to develop and unfolding slowly like crumpled paper. Their patience pays off though with the tracks finale illicting a few shivers down the spine, thanks mainly to the brief string section prior to the vocals return.

Deja Vu gets going with a The Smashing Pumpkins-like guitar line and stop-start drums, Fee's voice suddenly sounding matured and the tracks dips into woozy choruses and breathy 'Tick tock' backing vocals keeping things lively over the slightly plump runtime. Speaking of though, the album ends with a double bill of six minute plus tracks; the first Facing Down builds well into its pacy drum-beat and there's a Jon Brion quality to the vocals that's refreshing, and Fee's accent is pleasingly showcased. However it does little to really deserve its mini-epic runtime and though it doesn't drag on borishly, it feels like a band enjoying their own sound perhaps a little more than this is necessary - similar to many recent The Cure wig-outs. With a few careful snips this could be a neatly packaged little track. The album's closer is Clocks and Calendars which marries indie-pop, strings and a touch of folkishness in ways already familiar to the record, building towards a scuzzy finale that is a little anti-climatic in either an emotional or spine-tingling fashion.

What often salvages Pocket Promise when they threaten to drown under slightly mawkish, anthemic indie trappings is the earnestness and emotion clearly invested in their sound. They're not making big indie rock because it's the 'in thing' but because it's the best way for them to express themselves and they do so with considerable skill across all ten tracks here. However, there's little flavour to some of the songs meaning that in the end you may just find yourself sticking to the singles. Still, a band this young and interesting definitely warrant continued attention.