The Climbers - The Good Ship

Richard Wink 14/06/2010

Rating: 4.5/5

I've had trouble concentrating recently. I'm not sure why this is. Perhaps it's just that I've got a lot on my plate at the moment, at the moment I lead a very active life. I'm no longer the paranoid music critic with plenty of room to procrastinate. Ideally in times like these I need something fulfilling to really get stuck into - to suck me in, and hold me down. Thankfully every once and a while a proper album comes along, one that arrests my attention, a release that appears focussed, ambitious and intrepid.

The Good Ship is sailing on smooth seas and just what I require, a record that takes the listener on a familiar engrossing 'journey'. Yes, despite succumbing to temptation and using such a cliché, it is the most fitting way of describing the album, for it takes you along; you move with it, it carries the listener along. Replicating a travelling, carnivalesque folk feel that is half morose, half marvellous.

Formed from member of the Willkommen stable, The Climbers sit aesthetically close to groups such as Broken Social Scene, only massively under hyped and unsure, typically British. Recorded over six years in hired cottages, and sporadic studio sessions all over the UK, this collaborative effort sounds remarkably tight, with great care and time taken to make this album a cohesive body of work.

The first half of the album steadily rolls along; setting the blueprint for the archetypal Climbers song, erstwhile country folk, songs sung almost apologetically, sprinkles of strums, fingerpicks and other trad folk malarkey. 'Bookshop Folk' provides spidery guitars and splits heads with a dramatically abrupt ending, 'Anything' sounds like a Bonnie Prince Billy song, 'The Good Ship' seems to resemble a rum drunk disjointed sea shanty. It's not until 'Uncommon' which sounds prog-epic that the album truly hits its stride; from that moment on pure bliss, and all the assurances of something not quite life affirming, but honest in a time of thieves, liars, false prophets and fake hearts on sleeves.

Out Now.