As the opening salvo of Yesterdays, the song which first turned me on to the delights of this band, rolls confidently out of my speakers, oddly enough the first thing I think about is how small the world is, how cyclical music can be and how great ideas are not governed by time and place. I say that because, as I pointed out last time I had this band under my reviewing pen, if you had told me that this band had opened for Echo and the Bunnymen at a small club in Stockport in 1981, my response would more than likely be “yes, I think I saw them headline their own show a few days later at the Woolsack and Whippet.” Well, who is going to write my own mythology if not me?
My point being that, even though West of House might be an emerging band from Orange County, their music is infused with a number of classic sonic threads, ones which resonate wonderfully with ageing indie kids like me. You always worry that having got your hopes up over a calling card single or two, the album which follows might not live up to those initial expectations. And in someways Crescendo of Silence isn’t quite what I was expecting but only because it is sonically broader, more musically exploratory and even more genre-hopping that I first expected.
It would have been easy to have written a song like Yesterdays and then used that as a template for everything that followed, but Crescendo… is full of songs which fuse past sounds with more modern sonic visions, where rock weight is tempered by cooler indie control, where pop immediacy is balanced with more ambient, understated and even graceful musical backdrops.
Carry Your Dreams is as sky-scrapping and stadium-ready slice of indie-pop as you will find in the modern musical landscape, Turn of Phrase is a subtle and supple piece of epic understatement, if such things aren’t mutually exclusive, a song built of gossamer textures and drifting spaces, as if all the band have done is fashion the most delicate of song structure around the natural atmospheres and emotion of the universe and then let nature fill in the rest.
Holy Ghosted is an interesting sonic change of direction, a clear nod to those 80’s post-punk pioneers who ditched their guitars and proceeded to bend the emerging keyboard technology to their will, creating a sort of alternative dance sound driven by futuristic visions and hypnotic rhythms before the New Romantics rerouted that scene all the way to the bank. But perhaps their finer moments come in songs such as Fallen, a neat track of cleverly cut and infectious pop that David Gray would have given his right arm to have had in his repertoire.
West of House · Fallen
Crescendo… is a wonderfully unexpected album. I would have been happy with something which ticked a few nostalgic boxes, which it does, but it does so much more than that too. The songs are strong, they make nods to the past whilst striding confidently into the future and they are as at home in the here-and-now as they might have been at any time in the last four decades, which I guess is the very definition of timeless. And if that is the stride that West of House hit on their debut album, I can’t wait to hear what comes next.