Promise Ring : London Highbury Garage

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Really, the pleasure was all ours...

Emerging from the early ’90s emo scene, The Promise Ring used to make teary pop records based on the standard loud/quiet/loud indie rock template.

Thankfully they fled their emotional ghetto for Epitaph imprint Anti-Price, home to Merle Haggard and Tom Waits. Now in London promoting latest LP ‘Wood/Water’, The Promise Ring‘ve made no qualms about leaving the emo-independent aesthetic behind, but will their audience let them?

Possibly. Right from the start the band are heckled with requests for old songs, but it’s in vain: gone are the three minute Brian Wilson-type pop nuggets, banished in favour of gloriously damaged American anthems. Both ‘Size of Your Life’ and the super-spiritualised soul of ‘Say Goodbye Good’ explore an unholy alliance between Bruce Springsteen and LA post-grunge weirdos The Eels, while folk/roots rock influences dominate songs like ‘Wake Up April’ which sounds like a slow dance in hospital waiting room.

Tonight even the whispiest and most fragile of the songs from the new record become celebratory: “I’m just happy that you stuck around” sings frontman Davy VonBohlen on ‘Become Anything One Time’. Really, the pleasure was all ours.

Paul Brownell