Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Things in Herds


It does seem like extraordinary humility. The blurb on the Things in Herds website announces their new album thus:

"It does feel somehow irresponsible to be adding to the unimaginably huge flood of music in the world today. Still, it's a fairly short album so it shouldn't take up to much room at the party. It's also pretty damn quiet, and should be more than content to hover in the corner and to leave fairly early. Without causing a fuss."

There’s so much right about this. There is an unimaginably huge flood of music around today and much of it is a torrent of garbage, but the people adding the crap to the pile are either unaware of this, or are too busy counting the bags of money to care. At least Things in Herds have a certain self-awareness. They know that theirs is a minor release on a minor label and will never be a top seller. They know that they’re unlikely to be the toast of the party, and that there will be no big fuss made.

But so often, the loudest voices at the party are those of crashing bores – all bluster and no substance. It’s in the corners where the most interesting people are found, who though quiet have so much more to offer. Nothing is Lost is quiet – this is a world of hushed male-female vocals, understated harmonies, gently picked guitar, carefully brushed snares, and lightly touched keys. But therein lies its great strength.

I first heard of this Brighton-based duo on the Fence Records compilation Don’t Fudge With the Fence Made last year (their previous album Everything Has to End Somewhere was released on the Fife label), and my introduction was the gorgeous You Know, which was probably the highlight of a very fine collection of songs. It’s good to see that this song is included on Nothing is Lost along with nine other works of almost impossible beauty. It’s very reminiscent of Fence compatriot James Yorkston, particularly his most recent stripped-down outing Year of the Leopard.

Leaving early is fine, because this is music for after the party. For the wee small hours, the dark corners, for relationships realised and emotions focused, for happiness and sadness. And although these songs are instantly attractive, I’m sure that they’ll stand the test of time. It really is a remarkable album.

Download: Things in Herds – You Know
Download: Things in Herds – Nothing is Lost

Nothing is Lost is out on 2 June. Buy from the Fence website and yer usual download outlets.



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