Saturday, 14 October 2017

Album: The Crayon Set - Lost Languages

The Crayon Set - Lost Languages

Info: Dublin six-piece The Crayon Set released their sophomore album, Lost Languages earlier in the week, covering a range of real life experiences which the band describe as follows; "Looking back now the songs deal seem to deal with a number of interlocking themes: growing up in Ireland, trying to make sense of modern life and relationships, dealing with changes and failures, love and loss, identity, communication and expression.

The album was also partly our attempt – an Irish Indie Pop band - at making an 'Americana' album. To this end we asked our producer Gavin Glass to help make us sound like "Tom Petty on LSD". We embraced the sound of lots of the 'Americana' artists we’ve loved – The Band, Tom Petty, The Jayhawks, Springsteen, Drive-By Truckers, Wilco, Arcade Fire, Neil Young, My Morning Jacket, R.E.M. – to see where this might lead. We were always open to taking some detours and to having some fun along the way."

The first thing that struck me listening to Lost Languages in terms of sound was that it reminded me of a mixture of mid-80's and 90's pop rock such as Dire Straits and early Eels, but with an all encompassing and noticeable Irish accent, captured straight from the get go on the lively melodies and vocals of 'Are You Ready'. 'Down About It' circles that Americana and country feel the band were aiming at, but also pushes further toward the present today with a Belle & Sebastian pop joviality, the harmonies giving it a lovingly familiar yet longed after warmth. 

The Crayon Set - O'Connell Street

With 'Yesterday Man' The Crayon Set swing back to their folk bedrock, an ode and a ballad in equal measure to a lost soul riddled with self-doubt and many regrets, this could quite easily have been a Pogues track from days gone by to my ears. On 'Attack' the band sweep us up with a rousing high-tempo slice of indie-rock, barnstorming through its 3 minutes plus with their multi-instrumentation all fusing together to launch us towards a scintillating finale. 

After the gentle panacea of the other-worldly and dream-like 'Closed Lines', 'Aeroplane' gives us another insight into the indie-pop mould that TCS are looking to create, it's dreamy like its predecessor, but in an altogether different manner, here you are right in the present, and this is something that I will touch on again, this is a song clearly written by the hands of Dubliners. 

One of the album's previous singles, August release 'Can't Say No' is, you feel, exactly the point where the collective are striving towards in terms of developing their sound. The call and answer verses giving colour to a track which is filled to the brim with a convivial cheer that spills over into following song 'Hand-Surfing'. 

But The Crayon Set can also reach inside and pluck your heart-strings too, as is the case on 'O'Connell Street', combined with its video, the 2016 single release was described as having all of the hallmarks of a classic Irish single, and that still stands. It is an archetypal Dublin song, and not just because of its title and theme, even moreso because of the musical and vocal delivery, and you get strains of that DNA running through the whole of Lost Languages

Whilst one or two tracks out of the eleven didn't impact on me as much as the rest, overall The Crayon Set's second album achieves two things, it sees them strive (and succeed) toward new pastures musically, and secondly it eschews a wonderful sense of nostalgia nodding to an era when Irish music was truly starting to blossom into what it is today, with the entire band painting the album colourfully from their collective influences.

The Crayon Set will be holding the official launch for Lost Languages on Saturday, 21st of October at The Bello Bar in Dublin 8. Event details are here

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