Glasgow’s Fatherson made a real impression with 2014’s ‘I Am An Island’, and while it was excellent, it felt like they needed to find more of their own sound to avoid the comparisons with similarly epic (and Scottish) heroes Frightened Rabbit and the more sonically ambitious We Were Promised Jetpacks.
Second album ‘Open Book’ does this and then some; no longer in the shadow of their peers, it deserves to establish them as one of the premier acts to emerge from the north of the border.
Vocalist Ross Leighton has such a rich, powerful voice he can make your heart break or swell in a single syllable. And, as the group have pushed their epic sound to the limit, it means ‘Open Book’ is a simply gorgeous effort that will give you chills and thrills in equal measure. ‘Just Past The Point of Breaking’ is just so perfect it’ll send shivers down your spine, while the gentle ‘Wondrous Heart’ is a subtly infectious slice of alt-rock that exudes class and confidence.
It’s not all dour sincerity however. For example, the rhythmic ‘Lost Little Boys’ adds a little retro colour to the palette of greys and blues conjured by the epic soundscapes, while the punchy ‘Kids’ injects some much needed urgency into proceedings.
Elsewhere the rhythmic ‘Sleeping Over’ recalls the taut, sparse sounds of Elliott circa ‘False Cathedrals’ (indeed, it does share a certain similarity with the wonderful ‘Calvary Song’), while the closing ‘Chasing Ghosts’ shows Fatherson can go quiet and introverted as well as bombastically explosive.
There’s the odd misstep; it’s hard to get involved in the histrionics of ‘Stop The Car’ if, like me, you live on an even keel, and some of the vocal runs, while technically brilliant, feel over-the-top.
However, these quibbles aside, Fatherson have delivered an assured, engaging and gorgeous follow-up to a promising debut, and one that should elevate the Glasgow mob from indie darlings to mainstream breakouts.
’Open Book’ by Fatherson is released on June 3rd on Easy Life / Red Essential.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)