Barricades Rise - You And Your Adored
Owain Paciuszko 09/11/2009
With a nice bass-line and folkish drumming the opening track of this debut LP grabs your attention, it mixes a pop sensibility with Celtic and Spanish folk influences and acts as a good introduction and showcase for Jonathan Coates strong lead vocal. Whilst technically impressive and with impassioned delivery it doesn't quite connect with the listener enough to really stir up a high expectation for the following ten tracks.
Coates and Michael McEntee met in 1994, but it wasn't until 2008 that they formed this duo; having played in a number of other bands beforehand. I guess the two man set-up can see them easily compared to the likes of Turin Brakes, but their sound - though under the big folk-pop umbrella - has a very different flavour. The strength in their music is the craft and richness of the song, but while there's a good sense for a pleasing melody it's nothing that lingers long after the track ends.
A track like Dazed really illustrates how smart and technically impressive this pairing's skills at arrangment are, the song features some virtuoso - I'm going to hazard a guess - mandolin, great doom-laden backing vocals and drifts into a sort of anti-folk vibe in places; but despite all of this there's still something missing from the mix. It's like a delicious cake that just won't rise!
It seems almost unfair to criticise them because, try as I might, I can't really put my finger on what's wrong, though I feel confident in suggesting that they have the ability to do something very impressive, they just don't find it herein. At times Coates' vocal ambles dangerously close to a kind of Bon Jovi/Bryan Adams faux-gruffness whereas he was probably angling more for Ben Ottewell, if anything - despite having an impressive delivery - Coates could perhaps do with exercising some restraint at times and allowing the emotion inherent in the lyrics to do the talking. For instance, Messages could be quite a powerful song, with exclamations like 'Fuck me up and leave', but these sentiments are performed rather than believed.
Ultimately this is a pretty pleasant album but a little too lightweight, perhaps it will impress fans of folk-pop or acoustic singer-songwriter stuff. While there's some good instrumentation across the board it flounders in other regards. I'm not going to write off Barricades Rise, they could hone their act into something quite affecting, but here they've just missed the target.