The October Game - Wildblood

Richard Wink 22/02/2010

Rating: 2/5

Bedfordshire boys The October Game are a curious bunch. Writing this album under the influence of the woodland they walk their Labradors through during the day, and the ploughed fields they joyride Mama and Papa's Land Rover on at night, the band are in touch with nature; bringing a sound that sits somewhere between alt-country and folk. It's nothing new to write a rustic sounding record, but in a time where a lot of artists are talking about the bright lights and big cities - the move, the image and the tone sets of Wildblood separates itself from the pack.

Though almost immediately after the opening instrumental it occurs to the listener that The October Game are harmless guys, not quite as lily livered as Noah and the Whale or Mumford and Sons, or even weak wristed posh chaps like Keane, but it is impossible not to argue that The October Game are anything other then willowy. Not in a vulnerable sense, more that there isn't much of a backbone to their music. It's light, and feathery. Kinda like the stray floating feathers of a wood pigeon that slowly fall from the air after the bloated bird is blasted by a shotgun.

I portion some of the blame on the vocal stylings of Luke Williams. His abilities as a storyteller must be questioned, his vocals ho hum. Without a convincing voice we're left with the music, which although tight, blending acoustic swirls with the rattling rain on a roof percussion that fits the mood perfectly; with such a slow burning set of songs, what is needed is either grace or grandeur, and Williams fails to deliver either. He seems like a fawn tottering around tentatively, waiting to get devoured by a hungry predator.

Throughout this album nothing clicks, there is no Bon Iver-esque moment where you long to retreat into the wilderness and spend the daylight hours chasing squirrels and playing odd kinky games that involve pinecones and tree sap. It would be fruitless to argue these songs aren't well constructed, but they fail to connect on an emotional level. They can't pierce the Helly Hansen body warmer and get through to the heart.