Artist: Tall Ships
Title: Everything Touching
Record Label: Big Scary Monsters / Blood & Biscuits
Release Date: October 8th
Words by Tom Johnson
If there is a suitable analogy buried within Everything Touching, the debut album from Brighton-via-Falmouth trio Tall Ships, it would probably be ‘good things come to those who wait’. The bands rise has been something of a slow-burner; they’ve gradually built upon the promise of their initial EP’s and singles, cautiously and attentively honing the craft and finding out their strengths (many) and weaknesses (few), as more and more people began to take notice.
The bands live show has always been something of a wonder. Instruments are swapped between members. Guitars, synths and vocals are looped and built upon in a variety of mesmerising ways. What’s impressive here though, is that they don’t simply rely on those aesthetics. The two older, re-worked tracks best highlight this small shift in their dynamic and the way in which the more outlandish moments have been reigned in. Books no longer features the synth freak-out of old, opting instead for affecting piano and building strings, while Ode to Ancestors has been smoothed out; the disjointed nature of the original molded and shaped into something genuinely emotive and progressive.
It’s these slight permutations that help create a record that flows along brilliantly as a single piece. The finely-balanced Idolatry is a wonderfully slight six-minutes, all delicate vocals and drifting guitars that stands out as one of the bands most involving and impressive moments to-date, while the stirring Oscar is a monumental success, blossoming from a jerky guitar line into a dense and crushing epic.
Elsewhere the one-two intro of T=0 and Best Ever is a rip-roaring introduction. The former, which first appeared earlier this year, remains one of the bands most heady and joyous moments, while the latter plays out something like Three Trapped Tigers at their most succinct. Musically it’s perhaps their most inventive track as guitars rise and fall, wrapping themselves around crashing drums and driving bass lines.
When the band finally let loose, as we always secretly hoped they would, it’s on the dizzying ten-minute closing track Murmurations. Set against a pulsing beat that crawls alongside a repeated guitar line, the track deftly adds new fragments of instrumentation and ideas, building, growing and blossoming into something far greater than the sum of its parts, before a group-vocal chorus burts out of the track and creates one of the years most vibrant and exhilirating moments.
What Tall Ships have done so brilliantly on Everything Touching is create a record that perfectly bridges the gap between sweet, affecting pop songs and the harsh, compelling math-rock landscapes that their earlier work was built upon. It feels at once dizzyingly new yet maintains some aspect of the old; the melodies and sentiments expressed throughout feeling strangely and deeply ingrained from the first listen. It takes a special kind of band to have such a thorough grasp on their sound and direction on a debut record but, amongst the peaks and troughs of the music industry, Everything Touching stands taller than most. A startling success.