There has been a great many, us included, who thought that These Reigning Days could and would be the next big thing in British rock because of their exceptional parade of gripping and insatiably contagious singles. It has not quite happened yet, but now with the release of their sensational debut album Opera of Love that anticipation is back in full force. The album is sensational, pulling in all the brilliance of their singles, revitalising them, and laying them beside new creative emprises to send ears aflutter and emotions into overload. The Devon trio create rock songs which are as skilled in their textures and invention as they are virulent in their anthemic catchiness, the result an album that is one of the invigorating melodic roars of 2014.
The past couple of years have been a busy time for the band, their increasingly recognised presence seeing the band relentlessly touring and playing at numerous festivals such as Glastonbury and Hop Farm, play with the likes of Metronomy, Echo and The Bunnymen, and The Feeling, and more recently unleash their sounds before 60,000 fans at Milan’s San Siro Stadium supporting Bon Jovi. The past summer was consumed with a host of UK and European dates in support of the new album as well as an appearance at Vladivostock Rocks in Eastern Russia and Emerge in Mumbai, Dehli, and Bangalore. Now the Yoad Nevo (Goldfrapp, Moby) produced Opera of Love, with additional production and mix on the band’s previous singles by Ade Bushby (Muse, Foo Fighters), gets its moment to ignite the country and such its inescapable enticement it is hard to see it failing.
The album reveals its might and intent straight away with opener Stand Down. The song opens with the voice of guitarist Dan Steer waking up ears in the embrace of keys. It is an elegant start but even in its gentle coaxing provides the hint of something waiting to spring forth. When it comes it is not the expected surge but a dramatic stroll of thumping rhythms from drummer Joe Sansome and throaty bass tempting from Jonny Finnis. That in turn, with Steer’s expressive tones still in poetic league with the piano melancholy, leads into greater intensity and subsequently a contagious persuasion, the first anthem of the encounter. The melodies cast by the guitar and the radiance of keys only light up further the striding beauty of the song and its irrepressible march on the passions.
The impressive start is surpassed by Changes, an opening croon of bass and guitar matched by voice, luring the imagination into an ethereal flight of keys over an evocatively hued fiery landscape. As the song plays with thoughts there is a familiarity to this and others songs which refuses detection, that is until the realisation comes that the recognisable feel is from the band itself and the impact of their sound through previous singles like the sensational Too Late, which itself follows the outstanding new single Thrones. The album’s third song erupts with a throaty tone to its energy and persuasion, the bass especially vocal in its sinew stretched address on the imagination. Harmonies equally spring at the senses with similar success and strength, whilst keys and beats make a respectful but rigorous frame for the blossoming beauty within. The song is unrelenting in its melodic charge, offering a rowdy but composed tempest of beauty and bewitchingly textured ingenuity.
Too Late just as impressively swipes its share of the passion next, riding in on a dark magnetic bassline through sultry scenery of Morricone kissed scythes of guitar. Steer is just as potent as his expels the narrative of the song, everything building to a crescendo of heady hooks across bulging bass bait and tenacious beats with a chorus only the dead could refuse joining in on. Adding a Latin hue to its climactic tone and air, the track is a seriously intensive captivation.
A brief atmospheric instrumental called simply Interlude allows a breath to be snatched before latest single and title track bounds in with melodic seduction and drama fuelled vivacity. The electronic side of the band takes centre stage across the song but with plenty of room for the tight temptation of guitar and rhythmic enterprise to enslave ears and thoughts. Again there is an infectiousness which allows no escape of its binding grip whilst the warm soar of keys apply a provocative seduction. Its triumph is swiftly emulated by I Need Time, a song which takes longer than some to get to the same lofty heights. Featuring the enticing vocals of Jazmyn Mary in duet with Steer, and soaring harmonies courted by romantic melodies, the track is a gripping and mesmeric soar across the senses.
Both the electro stroll of Smoke and Mirrors and the shimmering aural light of Fish Bowl escort an already eager appetite to new hunger The first is seeded in an eighties synth pop revelry but just as alluringly adds a torrent of feisty riffs and energetic rhythmic unpredictability to further stir up its increasingly addictive bait whilst the second sends electronic ripples around and off of a sturdier drive of guitar and rhythm bred tenacity. Though neither matches the lofty heights of say Too Late both leave ears and thoughts basking in their warmth and invention before the dynamic endeavour of Living It Up descends on the passions. Starting with Steer crooning into another subtle yet colourful caress of keys, the track soon rumbles with muscle infused rhythms which in turn sparks a rampant energy infused with snarling riffs and taunts from guitars and bass. Subsequently entwining both sides of its scintillating ingenuity, the song expands into another inimical anthem in the severe contagion of the album.
Through the emotive majesty of English Rose and the similarly evocative breath of the Brit pop like Shine On, band and album show new twists in their creative characters to keep everything fresh and vibrant. That aspect of the album is a given before the pair share their evidence to be honest and reinforced by the following cinematic escapade of Satellite. With a sinister air to keys and bass and fascination to hooks and the more aggressive hues of guitar, the track creates its own unique and pungent enslavement of body and emotions.
Opera of Love is closed by the short McCartney-esque ballad The End, Steer weaving a melancholic finale with equally emotive keys. It is a tightly enticing close to one of the year’s major highlights, and the latest confident declaration that These Reigning Days is ready to crack that intensive spotlight.
Opera of Love is available via Ecco Recordings on September 22nd @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/opera-of-love-special-edition/id911377967
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