In the five years since releasing 2016’s ‘The Day’s War’, Lonely The Brave have admirably weathered the kind of storm that could have easily ended bands made of less sterner stuff. A huge shadow was thrown over the future of the Cambridge rockers in 2018 when singer David Jakes left the band after a decade, citing mental health reasons for his departure.
While it’s far from a dramatic reinvention, there’s enough on display here to ensure that long-time fans will be more than happy, with a consistent array of the arena-ready riffs and post-rock choruses that cemented their name in the first place. This time, however, we’re given a welcome glimpse into the darkness that seemingly exists within.
“I’m constantly bridging / All my answers make it worse / Explaining myself / Feeling like this trial won’t ever end,” comes Bennett’s swaggering cry on opener ‘Bound’. As first tracks go, it’s a lyrical jump into the deep end. It’s a similar story on ‘Open Door’ and ‘Bright Eyes’, which sees the band deploying some of their biggest choruses to date – and all delivered with the assurance of a group who are rightly confident that they should be playing to larger rooms.
But for all the strengths of the record’s forward thrust, there’s irony in the fact that its strongest moments are deeply reminiscent of 2015’s ‘The Day’s War’. ‘Chasing Knives’ is a melodic look back at the past with assured instrumentals of old, while ‘The Harrow’ will remind long-time fans off ‘Backroads’, which appeared on that first album. Crucially, though, it’s delivered with enough enthusiasm to sound fresh.
All considered, Lonely The Brave have proved their longevity – and dogged determination – with this comeback record. ‘The Hope List’ is an album that’s screaming out to be played live. Who knows – perhaps that dream will be realised at the April gigs they have tentatively booked this year. Fingers crossed.