Witches - Promo

Owain Paciuszko 11/12/2008

Rating: 4/5

There is something quite old-fashioned about Oxford's Witches, this five track promo previewing what may (or may not) make their second album is - on the whole - quite good, each track has something great about it, but not everything in each track is great.

It opens well with 'There's A Darkness', a sombre little number with mournful violin and twinkling glockenspiel, kind of like a lounge-jazz Arcade Fire song and it builds towards a great crescendo as a trumpet line wails woozily and triumphantly; though lyrically it's a bit tepid.

Second track 'Stammer' feels like a mid-90s Elastica outtake and after the swoonsome start it's a bit jarring, lead singer Dave G's vocal feels completely at odds with this faster, synthy number and for an old-fashioned feeling band this seems like an embarassing attempt to 'be contemporary'. Fortunately, it's short.

Things get back on course straight away with the lovely drum intro to 'Leave', accompanied by a strangely menacing glockenspiel and organ. Again it climaxes with trumpet howling over the culmination of the guitar and drum lines, accompanied by a 'Stonehenge'-like wind effect. Things remain somewhat mystical with the harpsichord that leads into 'Church Beds', and the band hop in the way back machine to become Pink Floyd as Dave G opines that 'It's not your fault at all.'

Final track 'B.O.K.' sees the band inherit the insistent indie style of Clinic over growling synth, and they wear it well; in fact, as a whole this could be the album's strongest track. It's delightfully arch lyrics singing 'Momma I don't wanna go to school today, some people are waiting for me by the gates.' As the guitar starts being strummed more insistently, the drumming clatters, the synth rises towards the close accompanied by trumpet you start to feel a bit frustrated that this track is cutting itself so short when it could easily become a glorious The Who-style rock opera, but, it is a fantastic close to this tantilising, if wobbly, promo.