about%20-%20jpg.jpg reviews%20-%20jpg.jpg interviews%20-%20jpg.jpg gigs%20-%20jpg.jpg cd_review_albanydown_theouterreach001006.jpg
Albany Down are yet another band exercising their musicality within the seemingly booming (and, dare I say, oversaturated) retro/modern rock scene. 'The Outer Reach' is the Brit quartet's third album and, while encompassing both nostalgic nods towards the past and a more contemporary dynamic, the bias is firmly on the former. Stylistically, like so many other acts within the current retro rock explosion, Albany Down's music is stripped of originality; a corollary of deriving their primary influences from tried-and-tested paradigms of yore. And with the album's overall concept said to be centred around "a trying and failing theme", if they were aiming for an original take on the rock genre, they've failed bigtime, so there's sonic reification of the album's conceptual predominance right there. But, lyrically, songs on 'The Outer Reach' also embrace the notion of "overcoming adversity"... which, I guess, could be read as the band transcending their stylistically stagnant stance by injecting their compositions with a modern, driving energy, particularly in some of the more up-tempo rockers (such as 'Feeding the Flame', 'The Drop' and 'I Need You'). It's this undeniably infectious energy that gives Albany Down's music a distinct edge. That and the flawless execution of their material, with some top performances from each and every band member. Paul Muir's vocals somehow blend soulful, blues and rock qualities all at once, and he sounds at perfect ease in riding the instrumentations with his expressive voice. Drummer Donna Peters and bassist Billy Dedman provide a solid rhythmic backbone to the tunes, and the former adds some nice flourishes here and there with some interesting and fluent fills. And guitarist Paul Thurley fleshes out the compositions with some fine rhythm and lead playing (although I think the press blurb is a little over-zealous is declaring him a virtuoso... his soloing is great, but this man is no Satch or Vai).

Another strength of 'The Outer Reach' is the album's mild sense of diversity. Yep, Albany Down have borrowed from a variety of sources; so much so on occasion that certain passages sound all too familiar. Take 'Mr Hangman', for example, where the guitar that drives both the intro and verse is ever so reminiscent of Stevie Wonder's 'Superstition', both rhythmically and melodically. Aside from the rockier veins running throughout the tracks, proceedings take a funkier, quasi-ska turn on 'Supersonic Girl', with a touch of brass blended cleverly into their palette. And the band's gentler side is on display in mellow closer, 'Sing Me to Sleep' , with some fine vocal harmonies over the outro, that are forged through an epic-fuelled melody, even if it does sound a tad familiar in its diatonic progression.

While 'The Outer Reach' is constituted by some well-crafted compositions, it's stylistically derivative, which compromises its overall potency. That said, it's still a strong album. And with a vibrant energy and vitality impelling many of the songs forward, even the down and mid-tempo numbers, and a great production by Greg Haver (whose credits include Manic Street Preachers, INME, Super Furry Animals, Catatonia and Melanie C), Albany Down's third album is certainly worth a listen. And if you can forgive them for its inescapably imitative core, there's much here to relish and enjoy.
AD Recordings
Review by Mark Holmes
10th June 2016
1) Feeding the Flame
2) Do You Want Me Now
3) Supersonic Girl
4) Mr Hangman
5) Like a Bullet
6) Home
7) Revolution
8) The Drop
9) Look What You've Done To Me
10) I Need You
11) Sing Me to Sleep
"... if you can forgive them for its inescapably imitative core, there's much here to relish and enjoy."