Tomorrow We Sail - The Common Fire
Owain Paciuszko 10/01/2011
The Sun Also Rises establishs the tone for this generally laidback post-folk-rock EP from Leeds/Sheffield quintet, maudlin violin over careful and considered guitar lines, building gradually with hushed organs and tentative drums towards sudden bursts of colourful and vivid noisy moments. There are elements of The Low Anthem in their quiet refrains, whilst things sound a bit Elbow on those heavier shifts in tone; the first track drawing to a close with rattling twinkling bells and vocals upon vocals murmuring gently, before it builds to a shimmering and grand conclusion. It's a so-so opener, all the elements work, it's performed strongly, but there's nothing too distinct about the sound in comparison to their contemporaries.
Things start promisingly on We All Fall Down (In Silence) with a hint of glitchy beats, before it shifts into downtempo theatrical rocker that plays its cards in a similar fashion to the opening track; swooning romanticism off-set by crashing, aching fits and starts. Threads is an improvement, slow and buoyed by guest vocals from Elly May Irving lending a pleasing contrast to the deeper, rusted tones we've become accustomed to. The song is awash with creaking strings and gently echoing pianos, and has a beautiful, hymnal quality and it's a huge relief that the track only swells with emotion and passion rather than resorting to the more cut-n-paste post-rock tricks of the earlier tracks.
Closing track Beacons is a traditional sounding, aptly defiant and hopeful ballad; drums equally downtrodden and strident between the wintry vocals, it clambers along reasonably, but there's little emotional resonance in the track's lyrics or arrangment, feeling, unfortunately, like its going through the motions when it should send shivers down the spine and make hairs stand on end. When it does conclude with strings and backing vocals a mantra, it doesn't quite soar as much as the highly accomplished production hopes; it's impressively arranged and produced, but it needs to get under the listener's skin, alas it fails and ultimately ends with a whimper, not a bang.
There's a post-folk-rock scene that Tomorrow We Sail can nestle comfortably into, but that seems like an almost defeatist attitude for a band who have got the chops to produce something really quite wonderful, but haven't really managed here. There are strong moments dotted around, and this is mightily impressive for a debut EP, but overall it's a disappointingly slight record.