by Neil Riddell
On The Idea Of You, the Scottish mainstays exquisitely confirm that some time away has done nothing to dampen the elegance of their output
It is over six years since the predecessor to Admiral Fallow’s pristine new record, their first for hallowed Glasgow-based indie label Chemikal Underground, came out.
The Scottish five-piece have never been an ‘album every two years’ sort of outfit – although, The Idea of You was mostly written and recorded in 2019 before the pandemic delayed its release for more than twelve months.
Frontman, Louis Abbott, has long felt that periodical hiatuses help to keep things fresh when they do reconvene. That the nine-song, 41-minute duration of their fourth LP is a resounding endorsement of his theory will not surprise anyone who has followed the band’s fortunes from their early days.
Abbott has always been a thoughtful, highly literate songwriter – from the eloquent childhood reflections on 2010 debut, Boots Met My Face, to the vignettes of everyday life rendered so vividly on The Idea of You. His gently intriguing lyrics contain the warmth and empathy you might expect of someone who has spent many hours co-writing songs with prison inmates for criminal justice charity, Vox Liminis.
Musically, there is never a hair out of place on an Admiral Fallow record. The crispness and texture of the percussion – indeed all of the instrumentation – demonstrates a precise attention to detail they hold in common with the finest North American indie scene staples of the past fifteen years. From the first acoustic notes of delightful opener, Sleepwalking, onwards, there is an unhurried quality to these subtle, intricate songs – though the propulsive Dragonfly, and the powerfully brooding, Tuesday Grey, are reminders they remain pretty great at rocking out when it takes their fancy.
The band’s sound is completely their own. Pivoting around arresting vocal interplay and harmony between Abbott and Sarah Hayes, the musical template is as likely to employ flavours of eighties synth pop or Philly soul as Scottish indie/folk influences. Crucially, they remember to twin these inventive arrangements with irresistible earworm hooks (see Electric Eyes and The Grand National, 1993).
Whether this record finally delivers the wider exposure their creative endeavour merits remains to be seen. It certainly ought to: The Idea of You is the exquisite sound of an already excellent band going from strength to strength.
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