Label: Ignition Records
01. Diamond Days
02. The Ship
03. The Forest
04. Harbour Lights
05. Voyager 1
06. Beyond The Pines
07. The Wind That Shakes The Barley
08. Age Of Innocence
09. Coral Sea
10. Deep Rivers Run Quiet
NBHAP Rating: 4,4/5
A break-up might be painful in the beginning but it also offers a new perspective on yourself after a while. Okay, to be fair, DOVES didn’t officially break-up but nobody really knows when the three-piece will end its indefinite hiatus. Following JIMI GOODWIN‘s solo debut Odludek from 2014, the other two parts of one of Britain’s finest bands of the past decade, return. Brothers Andy and Jez Williams are BLACK RIVERS and their eponymous debut is both – a fresh start and a nod to their past. And most of it, Black Rivers is just a really solid record for all lovers of melodic pop/rock anthems. And the fact that it is way closer to their former musical project actually works as a plus right here. The past is a friend, not an enemy.
Starting with the sunny 60s vibe of Diamond Days, BLACK RIVERS instantly suck you into their musical microcosm. Somewhere between the sunny psychedelic vibes for which we all worshipped the DOVES, new electronic experiments and a love for a certain epicness the two brothers create a diversified exhibition of their interests. Yes, it might sound like a cliché and artists who want to leave their former bands behind don’t want to hear it but it does indeed feel like a homecoming. The voices, the guitars, their special way of writing songs. You can’t deny the past so what do to? Right, embrace it, emancipate it from its own chains and make it face the future. The second song on the album, The Ship, is a lovely metaphor for it and would have actually worked way better as an opener for the album. It starts with surprising Blade Runner-like synthesizers and adds a lovely new component to the sound of Andy and Jez. Their darkened ship takes us directly on a big journey towards an unknown destination. Until we reach it, the duo performs a fearless and fresh update of their familiar musical strengths.
From sweet sun-drenched retro-rock (The Forest) to grooving rock ‘n’ roll (Age Of Innocence) – all songs might have a different concept but seem to be combined by a lot of coherent elements. One highlight comes in form of the powerful single Voyager 1, a stunning anthem in the tradition of Catch The Sun or Pounding. Another stand-out-moment on the album comes in form of The Wind That Shakes The Barley. The tune got a fascinating epic approach (especially the start) but the siblings managed to achieve that feeling without sounding too forced or falling for other contempoary clichees. The maritime theme of The Ship later continues as Coral Sea caresses us with its hypnotic groove and we’re happily ready to drown in a sea of psychedelic happiness. The record ends with Deep Rivers Run Quiet, a sweet and tender lullaby which marks another highlight.
In the end, the result is unsurprisingly clear. If you loved DOVES you will also follow the Williams brothers on their psychedelic pop trip. The BLACK RIVERS debut also works as a stand-alone proof of the band’s musical talent. You really don’t need to know their musical biography to enjoy its melody-loving content. But just like GOODWIN‘s record last year it is also a satisfying experience for all DOVES lovers as there are enough connecting factors for those who are craving for a comeback. In the end, everybody gets to be happy and this isn’t the worst effect a record can have, right? We don’t know yet how long BLACK RIVERS‘ ‘hiatus’ trip will last but we’re happy to set sail with them to follow the duo wherever the wind may take us.
The eponymous debut album of BLACK RIVERS combines all the strengths of their former band DOVES and adds new ingredients to the recipe, resulting in a satisfying little highlight.
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