A catchy chorus is not requisite for a killer song. It’s difficult to imagine Godspeed You! Black Emperor sweating too much over words that rhyme with “baby”, or The Dillinger Escape Plan slaving over the toe-tappicity of their latest mind melter. But, away from the fringe and into the arena of more mainstream genres, being able to pen a cerebral bore of a hook is a useful and lucrative skill to have.
‘Throw’, the second album from Flood Of Red, is the band’s sonic portfolio, prepared for a job interview where the world sits on the other side of the table. Within, there’s the solid coursework, progression through work experience and the more experimental material. Whether they get the job as the next major up-and-coming UK act shall be seen over the coming months.
One thing’s for sure, this Scottish posse have been working hard in their 4-year absence. Their debut full-length, ‘Leaving Everything Behind’, still resonates in the memories of those early adopters, but for a band yet to make it truly big commercially this gap has been damaging. It’s fortunate then that ‘Throw’ is exactly the record Flood Of Red needed to make. As urgent and creative as its predecessor, their sound has seen serious refinement from the early hardcore days, moving into a more alternative sound.
Whatever they’re putting in the water up there in the Scottish hills, it makes for some magic music. ‘Throw’ has an intangible mistiness about it, a vague sadness and dreamy quality, a feature shared by the recent releases from fellow highlanders The Xcerts and Mogwai. It’s in Jordan Spiers‘ delicate vocals and the soundscapes the effect-laden guitars and synths drape over the more boilerplate riffs and rhythms. ‘Whispers And Choirs’ is the band at their best; a combination of clever dynamics, the ethereal instrumentation and a stadium-hungry chorus. ‘Part Truth / Part Fiction’ is the heaviest number, given impact more through its selective restraint than its driving guitar work.
Just as there are bright points there are lulls too, but these few missteps (notably the generic ‘Cutting Limes’ and the pedestrian ‘Hiding Out’) are easy to overlook thanks to the high quality of the material. It may have been a while since we last heard from them, but given what Flood Of Red have achieved on ‘Throw’, it seems the time was well spent. This is FOR‘s play for recognition from a bigger audience; bigger stages, bigger crowds, bigger sales. If there’s any justice, they’ll get it all.
Written by Grant Bailey