Not to be confused with the Bury St Edmunds unit holding the same name and who we covered previously on the site for their Innocuous Beats EP, the Wales hailing Keys is a psychedelic pop/garage rock band who have just released their tantalising new album Ring The Changes. Exploring and crafting unique songs from American influences such as Stooges, Violent Femmes, Velvets, Sly Stone, and Jonathan Richman, the album is a captivating encounter which either ignites a fire in the passions or has them simmering eagerly from the first of its twelve endeavours through to the last.
The successor to their acclaimed album Bitten by Wolves of 2011, which itself followed the well-received debut Fire Inside two years earlier, Ring the Changes sees the Cardiff band equipped with a new approach and drummer to expand and flourish again in the lo-fi exploration which marked their previous releases. Recorded over one weekend on 8 track tape with Pixy Jones from El Goodo, the new album is a swarm of melodic and seductive songs fuelled with unfussy enterprise and transfixing infectious beauty.
Handclaps make the first invitation to the album as opener Shake It Up starts things off. The minimalistic coaxing is swiftly joined by the potent voice of Matthew Evans, his delivery expressive and holding smouldering warmth to match the emerging sounds around him. The firm beats of Dave Newington and the dark enticing lure of James Bell’s bass add to the growing lure and drama of the song, a creative narrative coated in a feverish blues spice from the guitars of Gwion Rowlands and Evans. They also instigate a mischievous teasing across the song, it twisting through numerous styles and inspirations whilst sneaking in the fully British spice of David Essex’s Rock On.
It is a fun and pleasing beginning to the album swiftly surpassed by Hard Habit to Crack. A mesmeric and lively slice of heated pop which plays with ears and imagination like a union between Beach Boys meets House Of Love, the song is a surf kissed breeze suitable for beach and home with its radiant melodic sunshine. As the first song, it is also happy to stir up a shade of intensity and tenacity that never erupts but brings a great raw but understated breath to the tempered blaze. Its success is supported by the similarly flavoured sixties pop of Bad Girls. Melodies croon as potently as the mellow vocals throughout the breezy and catchy evocation, Jan and Dean meets Jonathan Richman a clue to the engaging presence of the track.
Both the bluesy pop romp of See My Baby and the fire glazed lo-fi lure of Wade in the Water keep attention and appetite rigorously keen, even though neither quite matches the previous trio of songs. The soulful sultriness of the second of the two provides an especially provocative intrigue and enticement before The Beautiful Sound of a Heartbreak unveils its humid climate and emotive caress. It is an enthralling melodically scenic flight of Walker Brothers-esque passionate harmonies and My Bloody Valentine sonic sedation, and quite bewitching.
Machine Elves is a slow burner compared to other tracks upon the release, its seventies soulful shuffle inviting and pleasing yet lacking something indefinable which the previous songs basked in. Nevertheless it is a superbly accomplished and skilled proposition for feet and thoughts to embrace before the outstanding shimmering grace and elegance of Slightly Ahead of the Curve seduces the emotions. Again it is a slower persuasion but emerges as another pinnacle of the thrilling encounter. It is also another where we suggest there is as much a British inspiration as from the other side of the pond, this time elements of Kinks flirting with thoughts as the song explores and expands its sweltering landscape and emotional atmosphere.
The album comes to a close through the mighty inventive persuasion of Ghost, a song as minimal and poetically enticing as they come with vocals and guitar offering a tender coaxing around a pulsating firm rhythmic spine. Prone to expulsions of feisty energy and deeply hooking invention, it is another stunner before lastly Go to Get My She To get Her with its blues funk shuffle brings it all to a fine end, its mischievous title earning a new persona in the course of the song.
Ring The Changes is a gem of a release which from making an impressive initial declaration evolves and breeds firmer lustful ardour for its inflamed imagination and potent sounds. Keys have grown to another plateau through their release, one which surely deserves and will find a matching spotlight.
Ring The Changes is available now via See Monkey Do Monkey Recordings digitally and on 12″ Double Vinyl @ http://seemonkeydomonkey.com/products/keys-ring-the-changes
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from