There's a charm that flows through 'Under The Volcano'
You’ve gotta admire a band who dare to still think big. “We’ve got dreams of NME coming to do a piece on the second album, and it’s us hitting golf balls into the sea from a castle in Mexico, on peyote,” said Family Rain drummer Tim Walter in the Bath trio’s Radar interview in late 2012. That the 10 songs of ‘Under The Volcano’ – recorded in a three-week burst in the almost-as-enticing environs of Hansa Studios in Berlin (home to Bowie, Iggy et al in the ’70s) – sound quite so blatantly in thrall to Brit-rock’s glory years should come as little surprise.
But are they doomed to failure for being as retro as you can get in 2014? There’s a charm that flows right through ‘…Volcano’ that suggests not. Bolshy and raw-sounding, it’s a warm record that entices because it pushes the Walter brothers’ personalities to the fore. Had it been honed over two years in Abbey Road at a cost of billions, it wouldn’t connect. But it’s the simplicity, and the relative cheapness of their sound and set-up, that resonates like early Supergrass or Charlatans records did. It’s there in singer Will’s voice – rich, proudly English and pushed to the absolute max (no reverb here whatsoever). And it’s all over the melodies too: ‘On My Back’, ‘Feel Better (Frank)’ and opener ‘Carnival’ are all written with arenas in mind, while last single ‘Binocular’ is a blast of Faces-style blues. ‘Pushing It’, meanwhile, takes its lead from Arctic Monkeys’ recent endeavours – meaty riffs, sleazy vocals.
They’re at their strongest when they lose themselves, as on ‘Trust Me… I’m A Genius’, the track that broke them all those months ago. It’s been re-recorded here but it still sounds like the most anthemic thing they’ve done. The best bit comes towards the end, when Will defiantly sings, “I’m in love with a dead scene”. It’s a cocky, comical declaration about their influences, and proves that, above all, The Family Rain are as indebted to the myths of rock’n’roll as all good dreamers should be in 2014.
Record label: Vertigo/Virgin EMI
Release date: 03 Feb, 2014