The Earlies - The Enemy Chorus
It seems as though there's a re-appreciation for 70's prog-rock at the moment. Whether it's as a response to the vast quantities of bland rubbish being spewed into the charts at the moment or it's the latest fashionable decade to be seen to name check who knows, but, in my mind at least, it's great to see and hear. Most of those bands quickly lost the plot and became too over blown for their own good (see Yes and Genesis) but they did produce some ambitious and ground breaking music. With their second album The Earlies seem to have taken cues from these bands as means of developing their sound.
For starters The Enemy Chorus isn't as shoe-gazing or as mellow as their debut. There was a certain innocent charm about that record, but this has a more polished and assured feel to it. Whilst it's nice to hear a band develop their sound, it doesn't always work. The drums and multi-instrumental parts sound overly produced in places and feels as though they've been programmed badly. The brass-section on "Foundation and Earth" sounds like its come from some cheap and nasty Casio keyboard found in Argos.
However when it does work, it works wonderfully. The title track is a beautifully meandering song that builds through various disparate parts into one cohesive vision. Simple drums and keyboards echo around the gently spaced out vocals which reminds me of Gabriel-era Genesis. Other highlights include "Little Trooper", which is built up around various TV / radio samples and a simple piano line which harks back to the shoe-gazing tendencies of the debut, and "Burn The Liars" with it's 70's Glam feel sounds like the Scissor Sisters if they'd actually listened to Pink Floyd rather than covering them. The album finishes with the great "When The Wind Blows" and instrumental "Breaking Point". The former has plenty in common with The Secret Machines with its cranked up and overly-produced drums but it still sounds like The Earlies and it's a rare move into an up tempo song that surprisingly suits them.
One unexpected bonus with this album (and supporting singles) has been its artwork, they've been exquisite. The design compliments the music perfectly and harks back to the LP artworks (and Roger Dean pieces) of the 60's and 70's where care and attention was taken over them. It's just a shame it's crammed onto such a small space!
So whilst their second album might not be as an outright joyous event as their debut, it's still full of delights and sounds like a band who aren't happy to plough the same furrows as everyone else. They want to do something different and they're going to do it their way. And, with evidence like this, who can blame them.