A full thrilling meal rather than an appetiser of things to come, the deservedly acclaimed and outstanding Bullets EP thrust Irish band Able Archer straight into the eye line of European’s rock underground. Now the Dublin quintet return with its successor The Trouble with Strangers, revealing that their first encounter was no flash in the pan but just one shade in their emerging eclectic and highly flavoursome sound. The four song release is a fascinating and mouth-watering treat for ears and imagination, a proposition which tells expectations never to make assumptions about the band as it reveals new depths and adventure in ideation, songwriting, and their realisation.
Formed in 2011, Able Archer has barely taken a breath in their assault on the live scene, persistently brewing up a potent fan base whilst honing their compelling sound along the way. Bullets last year was a forceful slap upon a broader attention, instantly raising keen appetite and an acclaiming spotlight upon themselves. Now the band spice up their emergence and reputation with Able Archer and Shane Cullen co-produced The Trouble With Strangers EP, and a sizeable compelling offering it is too.
The EP opens with the riotous Ghostmaker, a track which bridges the band’s two releases with its raucous and tenacious energy aligned to new intriguing adventure. From its rowdy countdown the track is a predator in so many ways but as the swiftly engaging tease of guitar shows, it is also a seductive protagonist. Thumping beats make an imposing lure whilst the explosion of raw riffs and grouchy bass bait ignites senses and passions with brawling ease. The track soon settles into a feisty but more composed striding, the beats of drummer Seán O’Connor unrelenting in their drive whilst the gorgeous bass growl crafted by Diarmuid Breathnach is the perfect complement to the potent expressive vocals of Emmet McCaughey. The track grows and bulges with enterprise and imagination through every tempting note and voracious syllable, variation in vocal attack and melodic flames as gripping as the almost cantankerous intimidation elsewhere. The track is exceptional, an intelligently and passionately sculpted anthem few encounters have rivalled this year and last.
As mentioned there is as much new in direction or imagination in the song as there is drawing on the Bullets EP, but it is with the following enterprise of The Warden that a richer vein of exploration is unveiled. Opening on an electronic caress within a shimmering atmosphere, the song immediately grips the imagination, especially when sultrily toned guitar weaves begin enveloping ears. The tapestry of evocative colour and enterprise from guitarist Rob McDonnell is bewitching as is the fluid tempting of Neil Buckley’s keys, both excitingly contrasting the shadowed corners of the song revealed by the haunting expression of throaty bass and rolling drums. The glorious picture of sound is completed by the outstanding delivery of McCaughey, every word coming with a controlled but opened drama matched by backing harmonies. Not as immediate as its aggressive predecessor, the song blooms into a stunning and inescapable seduction; brass flames presented by guest Donagh Molloy rich hues on a sensational encounter.
Third track Only Love has a more agitated energy and intent to its opening, percussion and beats a feisty baiting upon which vocals find a raw breath. Keys soon smother ears with melodic elegance and emotive expression whilst the blaze of guitar casts a twisting flame of charm and abrasion. It is only part of the story though, twists in pace and intensity aligned to the same in imagination and varied rock flavouring keeping ears and thoughts wrong-footed whilst seducing them with their creative maze. It might not have the power and contagion of the first two tracks but the song is just as magnetic in its electronic seeded adventure.
Every song to this point is openly distinct to each other in sound and breeding, and that continues with closing track The Descent. The band’s new single is a melodic kiss of impassioned and intimate vocals, similarly emotive keys, and warm melodies. Drawing on the sizeable beauty and emotional drama of again Donagh Molloy’s trumpet and the tantalising violin craft of Eanan Patterson, the song croons with striking radiance and invention. Though for personal tastes it is when Able Archer lets rip that our passions ignite, there is no denying or avoiding the majesty of the track and its excellent conclusion to a tremendous release.
With The Trouble With Strangers, Able Archer show there is so much more to their expansive landscape of sound and invention, whilst it also suggests there is still further potential and imagination waiting to be tapped. There are few new bands, or established come to that, which ignite an almost lustful anticipation for their releases and even fewer which reward and surprise as impressively as Able Archer.
The self-released The Trouble With Strangers is available now @ http://aablearcher.bandcamp.com/album/the-trouble-with-strangers
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