2004 was a good year for record label Polydor. On the one hand their new signings Snow Patrol went from obscurity to multi platinum status. On the other, the debut album from The Open was released to much critical acclaim and talk of the being 'the next big thing'. It sunk without trace. Criminal, really, as 'Silent Hours' has much to offer - with its soul bearing lyrics, chorus's of epic proportions and a dense, multi layered production the album was always going to be compared to The Verve or Radiohead. The fact is though, 'Silent Hours' would be considered an extremely mature, accomplished work for any band, let alone the debut effort of five kids from Liverpool.
The influences are there for all to see, from the emotive bombast of the two aforementioned, to the wide-open romanticism of the Bunnymen or Talk Talk. First track 'Close My Eyes' may kick in with a pulsing rhythm and a Top 10 style hook but there are darker undercurrents apparent - never more so than when singer Bayley confesses 'when I close my eyes / it's darker than anything'. Don't expect this album to show its full hand on a first listen, this is one the listener has to work with. But like all great albums it's worth the effort. Repeated plays reveal fragments of melody that emerge from the mix and stick around to haunt you in your dreams.
Hopes were high for The Open, but for whatever reason (maybe Polydor decided to concentrate their efforts on promoting Snow Patrol?) it just didn't happen for them. Two years later the band had gone off on a music tangent and released their second album 'Statues'. Like it's predecessor, it disappeared as quickly as it was released. That The Open chose to split up soon after rather than endure being ignored any more is nothing short of tragic, a band that should really have scaled the heights snuffed out almost at birth.
'Silent Hours' is by no means a perfect album (some of the extended breakdowns can become tiresome) but for a big, beautiful, euphoric noise and you can enjoy a long and happy relationship with, there are few recent albums more satisfying or rewarding.