Glasgow-based ensemble have earned comparisons to the likes of The Delgados and Midlake and attracted plaudits from such high-profile individuals as Elbow's Guy Garvey, King Creosote and Guillemots' Fyfe Dangerfield. Now, with the release of "Tree Bursts in Snow" - produced and mixed at Glasgow's famous Chem 19 studios by Paul Savage (Franz Ferdinand, Mogwai, Teenage Fanclub), and mastered by Greg Calbi (Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, The National) at Sterling Sound in NYC - the five-piece (regularly swelled to a larger collective live) is ready to take the next step: from the recommended column of several critics' reviews and into the hearts of the wider public. It might seem natural to place Admiral Fallow beside certain purveyors of what's become bracketed as nu-folk, but the outfit is as much a new chapter in the continuing history of remarkable independent voices from north of the border as it is aligning itself with topical trends. "Members of the band have experience in traditional, electronic, orchestral and Indie music," says Abbott, "and I didn't have an electric guitar when we began playing together." So: the end product is of an entirely organic design, and certainly not to be confused with coattail-riding revisionists. "Tree Bursts In Snow" is due to be released on 21 May 2012. Front man and principal songwriter Louis Abbott explains the meaning of the title: "The title refers to the sound and the image of an artillery shell exploding into a cluster of snow-drenched trees.
I'm also astounded by the sheer volume of gun related violent crimes throughout the world but in particular in the U.S. The lyric from 'Tree Bursts' was inspired by the idea of the effect that losing friends through violence, in particular during times of war or conflict has on young men and women. They are "the leaves that fall louder than backfire, all orange and halloween red" A music video for 'The Paper Trench' was released on the 17/4/12 on Nettwerk's YouTube Channel, the video feautres the band playing in a room with lamps similar to the layout of the stage in January at the o2 ABC gig and a man dresses as a tree. The "Treeman" walks about Glasgow City Centre and The Barras then eventually gets on a bus which takes him to Loch Lomond, were he set roots down on a hill over the Loch. There is also a hidden message placed in the video when the couple write their initals into the tree (J+M) which is believed to be in reference to the bass player Joe and his girlfriend Melissa.
Given its strong pockets of similarly inspired bands, "Scottish Indie" is a genre of its own, though it’s been through various mutations. In the immediate post-punk era, it was the Postcard label’s witty, acerbic guitar-pop (Orange Juice, Josef K, Aztec Camera), then the blue-eyed soul-pop version (Friends Again, Del Amitri, Hipsway), and nowadays it’s emotion-soaked widescreen melancholia, spearheaded by My Latest Novel, Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad and last, but not least, Admiral Fallow.
Not least because the Glaswegian quintet are the scene’s most thoughtful brand of emo-scaping, more concerned with simmering space and dynamics than outright brow-beating. The opening title(ish) track surges and slow-burns like prime Elbow; Guy Garvey is a Fallow fan, and there’s indeed something Garvey-like about singer-guitarist Louis Abbott.
But it’s still smaller-scale, tense, and all the better for its restraint. Any band featuring clarinet and flute won’t be climbing the barricades any time soon, and flautist Sarah Hayes’ prominent backing vocals says even more about the inbuilt delicacy.
But this is delicacy with a bruising intent. The title of this follow-up to their fine debut album Boots Met My Face (its title derived from school-day memories rather than gang warfare) may suggest something pretty and poetic. But Abbott says Tree Bursts in Snow refers to "the sound and the image of an artillery shell exploding into a cluster of snow-drenched trees," triggered by global gun-related crimes, especially in America.
There’s no outright polemic to the album but threads of anger, frustration and a lust for (a better) life are tangled up across the board. Musically, it’s both moody and approachable: The Paper Trench has that Mumfords-style foot-stomping tack; Burn and Old Fools mirror the poise and class of a Elbow ballad (and the latter also resembles minor-key Coldplay); and Isn’t This World Enough?? portrays Fallow’s happy-clappy side, and is the track most likely to plonk them on the radio.
All the unsalvageable miserablists out there should also head to the gorgeous and wistful Beetle in the Box, while the closing Oh, Oscar might even be the best track, a gently stark ballad that’s both heart-aching and -warming.
Of all present Scots Indie torchbearers, Frightened Rabbit are the most irresistible; but Admiral Fallow are close behind. Hearts might well burst under prolonged exposure to this record.
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