Let us introduce you to the next big thing in British rock music, The Barnum Meserve. It is a big claim but such the immense power, potency, and potential in their self-titled debut album, it is not as wild a suggestion as newcomers to the band might imagine. Consisting of thirteen epic and cinematic creative emprises, the release is a seriously fascinating and glorious proposition which bewitches and excites with every melodic embrace, vocal roar, and orchestral temptation.
The seeds to the Nottingham band were sown at the start of the millennium when bassist Dylan Griffiths met pianist/vocalist Leon Wiley while studying music in college. Swiftly finding a mutual passion for certain ‘musical exploits’ the pair began writing and playing together. One of their earlier shows brought drummer Paul Moss-Pearce on to their radar, their meeting subsequently leading to him completing the band’s line-up. A few years of writing and reinventing their sound in respective ways followed before the trio finally united and emerged as The Barnum Meserve, in 2007. Again the three took their time creating, evolving, and honing their sound with the next eighteen months seeing the band studio bound before hitting the live scene in late 2008. First EP Stories From The Paper House sparked keen interest with its release in 2011, attention especially potent in the underground scene once backed up and pushed on again by its successor, the Broken Window EP in the following year. Now national awareness is poised to be inflamed with the threesome’s first album; an attention grabbing wake-up call to The Barnum Meserve.
The album opens with War Games and a serenade of orchestral expression and piano elegance wrapped in haunting beauty. The immersive hug of sound warmly swirls around the senses, gaining more potency and depth with the joining of the instantly impressive gravelly vocals of Wiley. An epic air is crafted at the same time, a drama which sublimely sets ears, imagination, and appetite up for the rest of the album, and whilst the song itself feels more like a dawning to what is to come than an individual song it inescapably has imagination and anticipation licking lips ready for what is to come.
It is an intrigue and adventure immediately filled by Open Up Your Eyes. Keys alone tempt initially before being aligned to the dramatic and epically swung beats of Moss-Pearce aligned to the more predatory tones of Griffiths’ bass. With its first rhythmic breath an addictive temptation is luring ears and emotions whilst Wiley’s continually sculpting fingers and adventurous throat bellows craft potent narratives over and within the driving range of beats. The song is pure magnetism, a virulent persuasion of sound and creative theatre enthralling body and emotions continued with current single Colours. Again here is a song instantly smothering the senses in melody rich colours and emotional energy on waves of keys bred adventure and reflective intimacy. Listening to the song is like diving from the edge of a mountain peak soaked in intensive light and soaring through varying shades of immersive shadows and invigorating radiance from thereon in.
There is no let up with the contagious temptation as Don’t Be Afraid comes forward next with a simply irresistible rhythmic bait; the minimalistic and wholly anthemic shuffle conjured by Moss-Pearce is a gripping incitement which continues to spring its traps across the broadening and melodically expansive landscape of the track. Strings and brass swamp the senses, again taking them on a dramatic flight before the song relaxes into a calmer pasture of just as passionate and fiery emotion. It is spellbinding, a collusion of contrasts building to an epic and breath-taking escapade before making way for the more slender weight of Last Forever and the darker tones of Half Mast. Both tracks reveal new enterprise and invention in the songwriting and sound of the band, the first a minimalistic dance but a persistent lure to another climactic call of orchestral and vocal majesty. Its successor is just as an enthralling a proposition, its heart and body seemingly bred from the darkest shadows with an underlying nature to match but exploring almost conflicting realms of emotional voracity and inflamed exotic beauty.
Wonderfully it is already impossible to pin down The Barnum Meserve sound; you can suggest essences of Nine Inch Nails and Arcade Fire, which many have, but listening to the album for us and often for no obvious reasons, thoughts of bands like Doves, Fatima Mansions, and Elbow come to mind, yet it is creative alchemy distinct to The Barnum Meserve ultimately. A fact proven by the band’s latest single Underneath The Grey which comes next. A sultry and transfixing pop rock song, it is arguably the gentlest surrounding of the senses on the album and one of the most captivating with its sonic breezes and melodic elegance bound in orchestral grandeur.
Without Numbers is a similarly bred offering next, pop and stadium rock infused into another intimate and intoxicating anthem of emotive and melodic fire. If it was me, this would be the next single, its impact simply overwhelming and invigorating whilst revealing everything you need to know about the band to breed real excitement. You could suggest many of the tracks would make the ideal gateway into band and album to be fair though, the imposing balladry and haunted emotional atmosphere of After The Fire next another easy to devour candidate as is the sentimental embrace and orchestral authority of the sensational Losing Sleep.
Dust provides another intensive ballad of sound and emotion, and though it is a slow burner for personal reactions it simply engrosses and heavily pleases with its company whilst Take Shelter entwines its own emotive reflections with a pungent lure of rhythms. In a single breath though, it explodes into a tempest of mouth-watering enterprise and imposing musical drama, swinging between contrasts linked by rampantly addictive rhythms. The song is a blaze of horns, strings, and impacting vocals bound by piano charm, and quite sensational.
Ending now the album could not go out on a loftier high but the melancholic haunting that is Tides provides one final immersive exploration for listener and band to bond over, not as instant a persuasion as its predecessor but certainly a lingering and absorbing finale to leave the listener wanting, needing more.
As mentioned at the start, we predict that The Barnum Meserve is going to take the British rock scene by storm, if not now definitely in the future, though now almost looks inevitable such the brilliance of their first album.
The Barnum Meserve is available via 34D Records from 6th April through all stores.
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