It seems every time I sat down to do this review something or other has cropped up to stop me finishing it. As a result it’s been written in stages, so apologies in advance if that makes it a terrible read. Point out any huge flaws and I’ll fix them.
The Gothenburg Address are a four piece from Edinburgh, comprising of Chris Bathgate (guitar), Rob Doig (bass) Luke Joyce (guitar) and David Jeans (drums). If any of those names are name to you, give yourself a point, in the past some of the members have played in other bands, including The Complete Stone Roses, Arab Strap and The Zephyrs. The band themselves first came to my attention back in May around the time of their release of A Lesser Coming Home as a single, mostly thanks to Ed over at 17 Seconds.
If you were paying attention a moment ago you’ll have noticed that I didn’t mention a vocalist. That’s because there isn’t one. That in itself maked The Gothenburg Address a bit of a hard sell for me right away. I enjoy an instrumental band, but sometimes it feels like you can’t move for them. If a band has a charasmatic singer as a front man, if the songs aren’t up to scratch and the band isn’t on form, they can hide behind that front man. With an instrumental band there’s no hiding place, and believe me, during some of those “can’t move for them” bands that I’ve seen and heard, I’ve really wanted to hide. However, happily, any fears I initially had were blown out the water upon hearing that first single and from then on I’ve been keeping an eye and ear on The Gothenburg Address.
Which brings us along to this, their debut album. I’ll almost never go out my way to ask a band to send me something – it’s a confidence thing, I’m always convinced they’ll say no – but when their Facebook page said they were inviting promo requests I couldn’t hold myself back, and the album dropped through my door last week and has been getting played regularly since.
The album kick off with the grand sounding Leaving The Last Behind, which is lent further gravitas, as if it needed any, by Alan Barr, who pops up to lend cello. From there on, frankly, the album doesn’t put a foot wrong. There’s no need for a hiding place when your band sounds this tight and your songs are this well crafted.
There’s no sense of the songs being samey, another trap some instrumental bands can fall into, everything sounds different but distinctive.
You can invite comparisons to the likes of Mogwai, even Aereogramme in places, but although those bands are handy reference points, The Gothenburg Address don’t really sound anything like them, they sound like The Gothenburg Address, which is just another reason why I’m so in love with this album.
Quite honestly, there’s not a single bad thing I can say about this album. It’s already pushed its way through the queue of other albums I’ve loved this year to announce itself as a likely candidate for one of the year’s finest. With that in mind it is hard to pick highlights, but just shading it are the tracks that bookend the album, opener Leaving The Last Behind and finale I Am Made Of Hearts + Fire, along with Its Not A Fjord But A Lake just ever so slightly shade it as my favourite tracks.
The album doesn’t just live up to the early promise of May’s single release, it exceeds it. On the arbitrary, meaningless star scoring system, it gets a solid Five Stars out of five*.
The band have put together a trailer for the album, you can watch that below.
Also, for a bit more of a taster of the band, you can jump over to their website and download their Shimmer In The City EP, made up of a live recording of the band performing at Nice n Sleazys in Glasgow, for the bargain price of nothing.
*I was asked about the scoring system the other day, so I’ll go ahead an explain. I don’t put an awful lot of faith in stars/numbers to sum up an album and think it can lead to laziness in just looking to see how an album rated. I’m all about catering to everyone though, so I’ll include an out of five stars system on a review to keep those that like them happy, I’ll just point out that in the grand scheme of things they don’t really matter.