Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The Strange Death Of Liberal England – ‘Drown Your Heart Again’ (Republic of Music)

Having only released a mini-album previously (nearly three years ago), The Strange Death Of Liberal England were received with critical acclaim which no doubt put a lot of pressure on the band not to rush their full debut. So to find out that ‘Drown Your Heart Again’ has been eighteen months in the making makes a lot of sense. Some might say that eighteen months is a long time to make an album, especially a debut album, however when you have taken the time to involve full orchestras, military drums and brass sections (apparently all for free) then I think that TSDOLE can be excused for their delay. 

The passion that has gone into creating this album is clear to hear; throughout there are many little intricate moments that prove how much time and effort has gone into making the music. This is not a band that has gone into the studio just to record a few songs; they have gone in to craft an exact replica of what I can imagine they were hearing in their heads when writing the material. The string sections swell in and out of the music seamlessly, the brass sections emphasise the power of the instrumentation it is accompanying, and the layers upon layers of vocals weave in and out of each other to create a mass of noise that you don’t hear very often these days. The end product sounds in the same vein as Arcade Fire. It is very grandiose to the point where some might consider it extravagant and pompous, but in fact I think it makes for a very personal and almost intimate album. 

I do have one huge gripe though: It is possible to use too many sea metaphors on one CD. The album is called ‘Drown Your Heart Again’ and the phrase ‘drown your heart’ is heard so many times throughout the ten songs that it starts getting silly. There is too much talk of sinking, sailing, swimming, drowning, tides rising etc. I think you get the picture. I feel it is the one massive downfall on what would otherwise be a very positive debut for TSDOLE. So much time has been taken on making the instrumentation perfect that it seems like the lyrics have been forgotten about. Maybe they were only worked out at the last minute in some kind of rushed panic. Whatever happened with them, it ruins the listening experience for me and it makes the album feel tedious and almost laughable towards the end. 6/10

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