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Strange Death of Liberal England - Forward March !

  by Chris O'Toole

published: 22 / 7 / 2007



Strange Death of Liberal England - Forward March !
Label: Fantastic Plastic Records
Format: CD

intro

Focused and passionate debut mini-album from Portsmouth-based post-rock band the Strange Death of Liberal England who combine brash liberal politics with explsoive tunes


Contrary to their name the Strange Death of Liberal England are a post-rock band from Portsmouth with a fistful of brash liberal politics and the tunes to match. Of the same ilk as the Canadian instrumental pioneers signed to Kranky or Constellation records the group blend dramatic instrumental landscapes with fragile, heartfelt vocals to create a stirring, invigorating take on the genre. Recent tours with the Manic Street Preachers and Of Montreal have raised their profile and provided a mush deserved reward after two years together. Recorded early in 2007 with Rob Kirwan behind the mixing desk their debut mini-album ‘Forward March’ is a collection of eight soaring, panoramic guitar tracks, providing a snap shot of an embryonic band in development. The delicate guitar introduction of 'Forward March !' opens the album slowly but belies the grandeur hiding just over the horizon. As the rest of the group appears on the exploding scenery a real momentum develops and their ability to provide this type of spectacle sets the group apart from their contemporaries. There has been some large talk about overt influences, including the Arcade Fire, but the group draws from the same palette to paint different pictures. Both create epic, almost biblical, noise but the Strange Death of Liberal England are firmly rooted in British guitar rock, more akin to Hope of the States or British Sea Power than their American contemporaries. Another key element that differentiates the group from a lot of modern rock music is the precarious voice of lead singer Adam Woolway. Immediate parallels can be drawn with Efrim Menuck of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and A Silver Mt. Zion fame, both in appearance and style. Neither is a natural vocalist and both lack the attributes traditionally prescribed to the front man of a band but both compensate with a fragile, genuine sincerity to their work; less performance more confession and accusation. ‘A Day Another Day’ refers to Arturo Bandini, author John Fante’s semi-autobiographical hero and The Strange Death of Liberal England share many characteristics with the young writer. Both have sharp ideals they wish to share with the world and a penchant for silver tongued politics, but it is doubtful the band ever survived for weeks on end on oranges alone as Bandini once did. Indeed this reference to Bandini is only one literary reference amongst many. The name of the band is taken from a book by Peter Stansky, charting the decline and fall of the British Liberal Party after the First World War. Touchstones such as these highlight the articulate nature of the group, a trait that shines throughout the record. The stand out track on 'Forward March !', however, is 'An Old Fashioned War'. A slight on the Daily Mail readers across the country who claim we need a new war to teach society the respect it seems to have lost, the track examines the futility of this position. All five members of the band contribute vocals to create some genuine emotional power and when accompanied by an Eastern European waltz a nameless Cold War fear is evoked. The piece is virtually a Soviet era marching song; a call to reason. This is a tightly focused and passionate group. During their live shows the quintet swap instruments and plays each with a renewed vigour. Each member of the band also sings on the majority of the track to create the effect of a ragged choir and when these moments come to fruition they turn out to be the Strange Death of Liberal England’s strongest suit. Indeed, what at first seems strange becomes essential. The final track, 'Summer Gave Us Sweets But Autumn Wrought Division', is the only instrumental piece included here. Shorn of Woolway’s vocals it teeters dangerously close to mediocre, lacking the definition or structure afforded earlier pieces. Yet outside of this finale the album is an incredibly strong debut. It is confident, composed; a steely eyed stare across the room. Having been together only two years the band has found a voice early, one that is only going to grow in strength with time.



Track Listing:-
1 Modern Folk Song
2 Oh Solitude
3 A Day Another Day
4 An Old Fashioned War
5 Mozart on 33
6 I Saw Evil
7 God Damn Broke and Broken Hearted
8 Summer Gave us Sweets but Autumn Wrought Division


Label Links:-
http://www.fpmusic.org/



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interviews


Interview (2007)
Strange Death of Liberal England - Interview
One of Britain's rising up-and-coming bands, post rockers the Strange Death of Liberal England have just released their debut album, 'Forward March'. Chris O'Toole speaks to them about their literary influences, intense gig schedule and touring with Of Montreal and the Manic Street Preachers


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