After a Mercury nomination for first album Through the Windowpane, and UK Top Ten success for second album Red, the Guillemots’ new album Walk the River came out amidst some pretty high expectations from fans and critics alike. Fyfe Dangerfield, the group’s lead vocalist, took some time out to make a solo album, according to the Independant he was simply documenting the breakdown of a rather significant relationship in a conventional manner and with the help of a John Lewis ad. Solo projects put firmly aside, the group are now back together and 20 months after Red they’ve released Walk The River.
There is much debate as to whether or not this album was worth the wait, but then again this is coming from a few jaded critics, not the fans who save up for tickets, CDs and downloads. The fans on Amazon have gathered a (deserved) 4.5 star average between them, and at £3.99 for the mp3 album download it seems like a bit of a bargain.
The opening song is beautiful, as Fyfe Dangerfield said, this is music “to be heard across the night’s sky” and from the beginning there is no doubt that his description captures the tone of the whole album, if a Guillemots album can be narrowed down to one tone. This album has many attributes, not least the same emotional rollercasters that first enthralled fans on Through the Windowpane, the 9 minute epic Sometimes I Remember Wrong echoes the magic of their debut.
Whilst not possessing the same continued intensity of the first album, Walk the River does appear beautifully crafted, an album full of so many things to hear that it comes as no surprise that there are hundereds of reviews claiming the record improves on every listen. It has been said that the band’s sound becomes a bit self indulgent, preventing the listener from being able to fully get into it, this isn’t necessarily true, if anything it forces the listener to listen harder and to engage with it more.
The band are still somehow managing to evade the “indie” stereotypes, never really conforming to anything, yet at the same time there is a certain neatness to this record which may well put the band on course for even greater acheivements than they had with Red. After the release of their second album, The Guillemots were hailed as one of the UK’s most interesting bands, a label they sure as hell haven’t shaken off yet. Mercury bait? Maybe. Deserving? Almost definitely.