Sons and Daughters - This Gift

Will Metcalfe 13/02/2008

Rating: 4/5

When I spoke to Scott Paterson back in November about his band's forthcoming third record he seemed both highly enthused and aware that 'This Gift' marked something of a departure for the Scottish outfit. He certainly wasn't wrong, in the three years between the release of 'The Repulsion Box' the dynamics of the band have changed substantially. What was once brooding rockabilly has became romping 60s infused pop rock; think the raw energy of Iggy Pop mixed with the pop sensibilities of Bacharach and Spector. Nowhere is this more apparent than the lead driven lambaste of first single 'Gilt Complex'; though the last remnants of Sons and Daughters MK I remain, the door is well and truly open for an equally intense, but somewhat lighter sound.

Pairing this with Bernard Butler's treble heavy production Sons and Daughters have created a record that exudes a sense of vibrancy absentmfrom previous efforts. Don't get me wrong, it's not as if you'relistening to Katrina and the Waves by any means, yet there is a definite lightness to the album when placed in context of their discography. It's also the longest record the band have done, though at a restrained 12 tracks don't expect a Jeff Wayne style traul o rama, again Paterson expressed they could have made it longer but they'd rather leave us hankering for more than waiting for it to end; And rightly so too.

'Darling' sounds like it's being transmitted from the 1960s itself, the production sounds like it's being squeezed through an old transistor radio, as it raises to the climax dual harmonies from Scott and Adele carry the band further than they've been before. An abundance of energy and tunes both old really emphasises Sons and Daughters unique sound amongst their peers. For a start, despite this album being noticeable poppier this doesn't mean sunshine and lollipops, oh no. Everything here is filthy, draped in a nasty guitar sound-and I mean nasty in a good way, very good indeed. In fact, it's so filthy that the Iggy Pop comparison I made earlier is entirely justified. Tracks like 'Flags' exemplify this, and, coupled with the group choruses sound half crazed, like a house band in a David Lynch movie. Yet this is balanced by the almost jangly 'Iodine', a song which is enhanced by Butler's sublime sense of musicality. Adele's vocals veer between the seductive and intimidating; just like a good dominatrix shoul.

Just as you think the record has reached a sustained level of darkness and melody the tables are turned. 'Flags' and 'Iodine' make you thing you're headed for a subdued but somewhat beautiful ending and then? Bam. It hits you, the jolt to the skull delivered by 'House in my head' could fell an ogre. Not that we're talking a transition from Celtic Goth pop to Slayer but it's certainly a bit of a surprise; rockabilly punk? Perhaps, just with fantastically tempting vocals, hushed then screamed. This is pretty much what Sons and Daughters do best. The end, delivered by the aptly named 'Goodbye Service' blends the new pop sensibilities with the old stop start riffs that sound like an old rock n roller with Parkinsons disease, Paterson's falsetto outlines the rapid delivery of Adele-possibly the most alluring Scotch female since Isobel Campbell.

'This Gift' is a record of surprises, not big ones but you will certainly notice the difference. When I spoke to Scott he was talking of the 'sound' bands like Suede and The Smiths managed to create whilst somehow constantly evading a sense of repetition, on 'This Gift' it becomes clear why. Sons and Daughters have too garnered their own sound, intimidating yet vulnerable, the soft underbelly lies beneath a gnarled beast steeped in rock n roll iconoclasm and a sense of melody too high to see. Sons and Daughters may not be perfect, precious little is these days, yet 'This Gift' is a document of a band coming to terms with their talents and how best to channel them. A fantastic record but the next one should be even better. Scotland's finest export in recent years, 'Kick ass' as the kids say.