Expect the healthy buzz around UK melodic rock band I Divide to take on a stronger accelerated urgency as the band unleash their debut album Last One Standing. Containing eleven impassioned anthems crafted upon poetic melodies and stirring emotionally driven energy, the album lights up ears and imagination with consummate and accomplished ease. Whether the band is providing anything new to digest can be debated, comparisons to the likes of You Me At Six, Mallory Knox, and Deaf Havana very apt, but they create a thoroughly compelling and imaginative persuasion which cannot be denied or for the most resisted. It is an album destined to thrust the band into an intensive spotlight and recruit a fervour soaked increase in fans.
Out of Exeter and formed in 2011, the band first drew attention with their nine track release What’s Worth More that same year before pushing it wider by winning of the Red Bull Bedroom Jam in 2012. This led to numerous festival appearances at the likes of Download, Slam Dunk, and Hevy soon followed by a second Download appearance and playing the Reading and Leeds Festivals. It has been an impressive emergence helped further by touring with Funeral for a Friend and their own successful headline run. The release of the single Follow Me last year helped raise a strong anticipation for the band’s album, hopes and expectations now rewarded with a masterful collection of songs and imaginative enterprise.
The aforementioned single opens up the album; the emotive vocal cries of Tom Kavanagh, ably backed by those of guitarist Josh Wreford, moving in from a distance whilst keys caress the ears around them. It is a tempered but potent coaxing which soon launches its full energy through broad rhythmic punches from Dave Mooney and the increasing tempting sonic suasion of Wreford and Henry Selley. There is little time taken by Follow Me in hooking its contagious bait into the imagination, the dark bass of tones from Kristen Hughes more reserved in their presence but an equally dramatic colour to the impressive track. As is proven by all the songs, you need to settle and really dive into the track to fully unveil all of its mature and skilful essences with the surface gloss and attractive craft only half the story.
The following Tell Me Something has a similar feel and initial premise to its predecessor and if there is any nagging thing about the album it is the closeness some tracks are to each other in sound and structure, though again a closer detailed look reveals much more. The song wraps the ears in a finely textured and smoothly flowing breeze but against that there is a great snarl to the riffs and rhythmic intent which pleasingly complements and challenges the clean blaze of vocals and sonic endeavour. Once more the infectiousness of the track commands whilst the emotive expression of the vocals and guitar designs fully engage before making way for the new single from the album, I’m Not Leaving. Opening with a ballad kissed vocal and classical like keys, the song slowly bewitches the senses until bursting with a great chorus. There is something very familiar to the virulently catchy moment, whether from having heard the song previously and not realising, its closeness to other songs, or just evidence that the band is yet to find a unique voice for itself, but it is a magnetically captivating tempting which makes the whole song.
The sturdier Monster in Me shows the variety to the band’s invention , its sinews and towering rhythmic confrontation a welcome twist in the album though with the smooth and impressive vocal delivery, the track was going nowhere else than into another thoroughly pleasing melodic rock enticement. Arguably the first really open song of inventive adventure in its songwriting it is a major highlight on the album instantly matched by the rampant Cold at the Bottom, the song another to slowly unwind its body from an emotional slow caress before charging with purpose and colourful enticement across the passions. Again there is a richer adventurous invention to the song, marked by the swift and scorching solo which only pushes the album deeper into appreciation and the rather keen appetite sparked by the album.
Living in a Hurricane keeps heat and attraction from the album high, even if it slips back into that very agreeable but more familiar stance of songs before 27 Down, featuring the excellent tones of Rebecca Need-Menear from Anavae, explores another distractive variation. In many ways it is the vocal union which seals the honours but the song is a superbly crafted and creatively presented tempting from start to finish egging a hungry licking of the lips before both Run Away and Say It Isn’t So take over and provide a feisty emotive anthem and mellow croon respectively.
The album comes to a close with firstly the bouncy energy and eagerness of Let Go, a track which brings another virulent lure to seduce feet and passions with, and lastly the excellent Look at Me Now. The final track is thick in drama, bass and guitars uncaging shadows for the melancholic tones of Kavanagh to lay his potent narrative. Tension builds across the song, rhythms adding their haunted drive before the song rather than exploding as expected relaxes into a stable continuation of that initial portentous enveloping. The climax of the song does increase in intensity and dramatic atmospheres, its closing hand almost early Cure like. It is a tremendous end to the release which almost alone shows the depths the band can still explore and its rich potential.
Last One Standing is an album you feel you already know and have heard before but it cannot stop itself and the band being one highly enjoyable and impressive proposition… and something to firmly recommend.
Last One Standing is out now via Destroy Everything Records
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