The long-awaited follow-up to 2012’s best-in-show Persistent Malaise offers at least 33.3% of its buffet to shimmering, inward, mulch-heavy ballads—A Change of Course, The Shaping of the Dream, Murmur of the Heart—showing a sensitivity that inevitably does nothing for the craft beer revolution. If truth be told, the remaining 66.6% threatens to look equally indifferent when served on a wooden board or beside a miniature stainless steel plant pot of hand-cut triple-cooked fries, but such is life.
These songs are mostly about discouragement and the black dog, the tepid whines of self-inflicted unemployment, the repetition of life’s repetitions, the creative dormancies of romantic contentment. Disappointingly there lies no outward mention of pop-up launches, sides of ‘slaw, chakra schools, the urban woodsman or an allusion to an artisan approach. Across its 38 minutes, the The Hanging Valley instead covers such further peripheral subjects as the imperceptible bow towards the thirty something honours list, the vacuous, rising diphthong of the inner-city commute and the suppressed rush of blood towards vainglorious internet smear.
THE HANGING VALLEY ‘Now a quartet of fraternal pedants’ whimper the band’s dusty social media accounts in reference to the twilight addition of Lindsay Corstorphine on the bass guitar, ‘cascading down the woodwork, slapping the pegs’ as he goes, dear reader. In truth The Hanging Valley owes us much to Corstorphine’s ample stringmanship as his encouragement toward loosening the conservative shackles of olde. Certainly a weakening of the old guard has taken place somewhere, the gamut of emotion ridden more obliquely and less shamefully now. Ballads stare teary-eyed out of windows towards rain-swept rivieras, vocals and guitars have pulled themselves gamely out of the reverb-soaked hollow and those ‘for the rockers’— Slippery Slopes, Severed Estates, Fugue States et al—no longer grasp for the safety of the halfway house but aim for the stars. ‘More sherberta tambourine’ they cried in the studio, and more sherberta there was.
Open Mouth of Dusk
A Change of Course
A Human Pattern
The Shaping of the Dream
Murmur of the Heart
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