The Son(s) – Leviathan EP

June 6, 2012

First of all, here is Leviathan via Soundcloud.

After last year’s self-titled effort, we saw a mixture of reactions to The Son(s) retrograde charms. Some praised the EP; some mentioned the “smooth textured vocals, beautiful arrangements and gently plucked guitars” whilst more confused articles didn’t know where to place the release. So, with an arsenal of expectation, I climbed into bed with some headphones on a Friday afternoon and listened to Leviathan.

Roaring Round The House begins our venture. There are bulbous melodies, a spirited showing of twee-instrumentation, and a lot of promise. Its finest moment arrives at 0:44: momentum bursting into blissful frenzy – driven by the strength of the Roger Chapman-esque main vocal. Not long after that, it ends – how peculiar for a leading single? An immediately rewarding aspect is the production. Imperative to records of this ilk, it is warm, honest and homespun – mixed by the boorishly artistic Smallfishrecordings.

Half Lived is arguably the Leviathan’s finest moment; a jaunty-pop and folk-inflected collage. Owing to blooming back-up harmonies, a healthy injection of satirical lyricism, and stunning guitar work, The Son(s) are digging deeper into their gruffer aesthetic (Blitzen Trapper, My Morning Jacket).Whilst usually we’d expect nostalgia-ridden releases to share a shy approach to track listing, Leviathan gleams as much as it constrains; exploding into rapture when it needs to. Tracks like If I Hear You Talk Apostrophes Again… boast themselves, whilst there are occasional lapses in impetus: Cocksure Boys. The release doesn’t know whether it is an EP or an album, resting somewhere in between; my instinct would have been to add more songs to the listing.

The lower frequency instruments are rhythmically interesting and refreshingly lo-fi throughout. This is summed up no better than the captivating, driven, and essential keys on Shot Out A Cannon. Unquestionably, the storytelling is impressive but there are moments like ‘If I hear you talk apostrophes again, I won’t be responsible my friend’ which are not as blissfully crafted as the terrific song-writing on There is No-One To Thank.

So: six tracks, each of them worth your time, and this will still be seen as a difficult and divisive release for the critics. I say that because it wasn’t immediately grasping, and many may not fall for the charm that consumed me. With ‘nu-folk’ hugging the British scene currently, this type of rationale will be mistrusted by music fans, and, whilst it continues to yield rewarding results for some, The Son(s) poetic depth is something far more interesting than it may be given credit for. In fact, it’s truly heart-warming to hear a British band writing music this way. I gave Leviathan time, and it painted a warm picture.

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