Mr Bones And The Dreamers - Are These Actual Miles?

Neil Watts 05/03/2009

Rating: 4/5

Listening to Mr Bones And The Dreamers is akin to stumbling into an Irish bar and finding a regrouped Hope Of The States hurtling through The Lost Riots. The Birmingham seven piece's music is as intelligent and intense as anything the sadly departed Chichester outfit produced during their early peak. Are These Actual Miles? paints lush but foreboding landscapes that manage to catapult their music far from the urban surroundings where it was created.

At the fore are Keiran Goddard's vocals, constantly faltering and trembling with emotion making him sound like some sort of twisted angel. He drips with barely tempered vitriol, spitting out lines like 'with our fingers entwined we decay', on Lend Me A Looking Glass, with distaste. Spiritual and religious undertones drift throughout the EP, which makes for interesting listening. It isn't a wholly comfortable experience, but it is certainly all the better for the band's reluctance to conform.

The EP really comes into its own in the last two tracks. Time To Rest is builds like Arcade Fire on a rampage, and centres around the unrelenting refrain, 'this is the sound when a heart starts beating' that refuses to draw breath for a second. What follows in Lend Me A Looking Glass is a giant slab of traditional folk complete with stomping, foot tapping rhythm that bursts with dark energy. It is when they alter the tempo that they really create something quite special, being able to flit from uplifting to sombre in an instant.

Mr Bones And The Dreamers are proof that it is possible to turn the grey streets of the Midlands into something far from dreary and generic if you are brave enough to believe in your ideals and go it alone. They verge on being a contradiction in terms at times, veering from the euphoric to downright morose in an instant, all the while retaining an intensity shared with the colossal sounds of I Like Trains.

Out 6th April on CatCutter Records.