Lonely The Brave

The Hope List

Written by: LF on 31/01/2021 16:05:53

Now, this is an album that has been a long time coming, at least for fans like myself. It's the third full-length by Cambridge, UK band Lonely The Brave, whose dreamy and yearning melodic rock music I've been following since 2013, and it's been all of five years since their last record. Since last, however, their original vocalist David Jakes has left the group due to mental health issues - a decision that, of course, is the entirely right thing to do in his situation. At the same time, it did feel like a devastating blow to the band, as his desperate voice and bleak tone was such an ingrained part of their sound.

Yet, here we are with the group's new lead singer, Jack Bennett, and this new batch of songs that I have been eagerly awaiting since I was surprisingly floored by the album's singles when they began slowly releasing last year. Bennett is definitely capable of picking up the baton and adds a new flavor to the music with his husky voice and incredibly emotional, fluttering melodies. The guitar work is as expansive and layered as always and with this change in vocals, it only really points out how much this fundamental, passionate, heart-on-sleeve sound we've come to expect from them, is still as alive as ever.

Catchy hooks and memorable moments are all over the album, with singles like "Distant Light" with its glittering, post-rock-ish guitars, and "Open Door" with its more constrained production and bass-heavy verses, especially standing out. They both hammer home Bennett's fluttering singing style beautifully, as he sings in a way that's intimate yet huge and anthemic at the same time. Album opener "Bound" retains some of the same qualities and compromises beautifully in building up the band's dreamy sound while wasting no time getting to the first climactic chorus that really sets the tone for the whole thing. Their latest single "Keeper" appears in the middle of the album with a focus on longer notes and slower movements, maybe more reminiscent of the vibe on their first album, "The Day's War". As mentioned in their press material, this was also the first song the band wrote with their new singer, marking a special moment and certainly a strong start to this new constellation.

In some ways, though, their Achilles heel remains the same as before, namely that a lot of the time, they seem to rely on very similar tones and singing styles across the album. This makes for a unified vibe and red thread throughout but also blends the songs together somewhat. Depending on what you are looking for in your melodic rock, it seems to be able to work either for or against the experience. To me, the constant pull of the songs is enveloping in such a way that it feels like a full emotional journey, and accomplishing that is always a magical feeling with an album, even as it can also feel too consistently high-strung at times.

They do change things up along the way. "Chasing Knives" for instance morphs the melancholy into a warmer sound that makes it stand out while keeping with the climbing vocals, and it has quickly become one of my favorites of the whole album, no doubt due to the variation in flavor from the bigger singles. Songs like the title track "The Hope List" and later on "Your Heavy Heart" break the mold with their much quieter instrumentals and mostly acoustic delivery. Both "Something I Said" and "Bright Eyes" further represent some stand-out chorus lines in each their end of the usual spectrum, the first being soft and slow while the latter is more gritty and hard-hitting, more reminiscent of the material on their second album, "Things Will Matter". Finally, the longest song here, "The Harrow", fittingly closes the album in extensive ballad style.

I will probably always be biased towards the group's first album "The Day's War", even though I only rewarded it a 7½ score when reviewing it initially. It ended up being one of my favorite releases of 2014 and contains some of my very favorite songs of that year overall. Because of that, I've been wishing for them to blow me away in the exact same way ever since but it seems Bennett's changes to their sound have finally released them of that unfair chokehold. Some songs stand out more than others but the sheer emotional punch of the music makes it a very strong record overall. It has certainly pushed the band a little further in developing their core sound and contains some solid anthems that will remain part of my soundtrack for the rest of this year and most likely beyond.

8

Download: Chasing Knives, Keeper, Distant Light, Open Door, Bound
For The Fans Of: Mallory Knox, Deaf Havana, Charlie Simpson, Young Guns
Listen: facebook.com/LonelyTheBrave

Release date 22.01.2021
Easy Life Records

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