Drown The Wind – West of House (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

If the job of a single released ahead of an album is to build interest and intrigue for the full-length sonic delights to follow, then Entwined should expect a heft Christmas bonus from its employers. Opening with the ethereal drift of the enigmatically and existentially titled Nothing is But What is Not, we revisit the shimmering charms and upbeat messaging of that teaser single. But I have talked about that at length and one track does not an album make.

‘Merican is full of angst and urgency, a hard-grooving, snarling rock beast, wonderfully at odds with the previous track, the two songs taken together making for a wonderful example of the sonic spectrum across which West of House are able cast their music.

And then there are tracks like Beautiful Distraction, a hazy, psychedelic cloud of warmth and charm, and sounding not unlike the sort of thing U2 have occasionally aimed for when they have wanted to remind us that they are more than a foot on the monitor rock and roll band. But the beauty, depth and delicacy on display here seems to be beyond the reach of Bono and the boys. (And I say that as a bit of a fan.)

Fall Down is a slice of ethereal haze melded onto a pop-rock groove, part drifting and angelic, part rhythmic and devilishly clever, loaded with Celtic rock charm (Celtus would kill to have written this) and full of lilting groove. By contrast, Cattywampus, is full of spikey digital energy, low-slung electro-grooves and rock and roll grit all tempered with just enough of those hazy cherubim harmonies to confuse the listener…in a good way.

The First Time seems to come from classic West of House territory, that easy and effortless meld of rock melodics, indie cool and pop accessibility all with their edges softened by dreamy production and shimmering echoes, exactly the sound that attracted me to the band in the first place. Where to Begin is lilting and lullaby-like and the album ends on the high rock and roll note of Apropos.

West of House might just have delivered my album of the year. It ticks so many boxes for me. The melodies are addictive, the songwriting infectious, the lyrics worth exploring beyond just spinning the record and the drifting sonics and hazy atmospheres are everything I love, having been brought up on everything from The Cocteau Twins to The Lilac Time to Echo and The Bunnymen to Enya, new pop, post-punk and the alternative sounds of the ’80s in general. Odd travelling companies perhaps but hints of all of which seem to pass gently and maybe even subconsciously through their songs.

And if this is not still my album of the year in four months time, then it will have been a spectacularly good year for music.

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