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AAA Music | 19 June 2024

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The Fallows – Face The Wolves

| On 02, Sep 2012


I’d be lying to say The Fallows’ ‘Face The Wolves’ is not a powerful album. In fact, their sound is strong and individual enough to mark them out, and the songs themselves are far from dislikeable, mixing New Model Army with lovelorn indie pop and the grizzled observational moments of Springsteen. But there’s something that hasn’t quite clicked yet in their sound, to the effect not that I am discouraged, but more left with the impression that I have been let in on a band who have taken the first step on the road for big things.

Opener ‘We Are The Hunted’ could be lumped into the indie-folk pile until the bitter vocals, bleak lyrical storytelling and dark fiddle/piano melodies take the listener to a ghostly place before the catchy pop chorus recalls The Stone Roses telling gothic tales around a campfire, and before you know it, you’re hooked into the shadowy alternative world of The Fallows. ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ is a much more conventionally indie-flavoured track, and despite its obvious pop hooks and vaguely Social Distortion-esque sense of gruff wistfulness and deeply human observation doesn’t quite absorb the listener in the same way. Similarly, although the mournful waltzing of ‘One By One’ has its charms, it drags on and doesn’t gel as well as the balladry of ‘Better To Burn’, which succeeds in bringing their ulterior world into the everyday romance, in both lyrics and in the instrumentation, balancing the beautiful fiddle playing and acoustic guitars with indie rock sensibilities, and their shady corners of spectral mood with everyday events. Doom-laden heartbreak blues ‘Break My Bones’ also manages to evoke the sense of something far bigger than its immediate story, by sprinkling a pseudo-gothic-literature twist to the lyrics and a cavernous booming drum sound to back up the simple stripped-down sound of the instruments elsewhere.
Social Distortion and alt-country’s crossover with anti-folk and The Stone Roses reappears on the playful yet downcast ‘Raining Back Home’ which uses country guitars, harmonica and pitter-patter percussion to evoke atmosphere just as much as play a song, although it does the latter very well too, creating story, tone, and tune with ease. ‘Front Row’ does the exact same trick, with a delicious dark pop chorus and lucid socially-aware storytelling, recalling New Model Army at their best.
Oddly enough, even with the Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen moment on ‘Lo And Behold’, the sheer passion and craft they employ when they haven’t quite got the maturity to pull off the lyrical story mean that I find myself held until the final track, the weary ‘It’s Not Over’, again bringing a darker shadow to the everyday tales of lovesickness found in all kinds of rock. The full-on string section is perhaps a little overbearing in a place where fiddles would have sufficed on an album not overly given to big or lavish moments, but the bassline is subtly addictive, and the mood undeniable.

In all fairness, there are some bands where you’d feel that this is their five-star pinnacle. But I’m giving The Fallows a lower rating for the simple reason that actually I think that ‘Face The Wolves’ is such a striking and uncompromising blend of folk, punk, rock, pop and gothic (but not goth) poetics nestling in unpretentious storytelling that actually, I think that they can and will do even better and knock us dead in the near future. Ones to watch at all costs.

Katie H-Halinski