Almost Here (Virgin)
Surprising, haunting debut from a Radiohead relative.
You don't have to say it loud - or long - to mean it. Not something the
guiding lights of the 'alternative' rock world have heeded over the last
year, with its 75-minute albums and three-part symphony singles. All of
which makes Unbelievable Truth's debut something of an antidote. Grand
gestures don't get a look in. All we have here is a bruised melancholy
gently wafting through a dozen songs short on drama, but definitely long
on spirit and emotion.
UT have been together some four years - a situation that shouldn't be
lost on those who claim they've only been signed because of singer Andy
Yorke's genetic links to a certain man-of-the-moment, his brother Thom -
and have honed their sound, creating a water-tight atmosphere of beautiful
melancholy. If UT have any links to Radiohead, it's the Radiohead of
campfire-circle acoustic moments like 'High & Dry'. To his credit, Andy
doesn't ape Thom's vocals, even if the odd stadium-stopping shriek
occasionally emerges. The atmosphere is more redolent of the gentle
unease that coursed through Crowded House's 'Together Alone', snapshots
that shiver with the ghostly recollections of childhood memories.
There's an ache in Yorke's voice, allied to the hesitant, fragile
melodies, that moves so much of this album to minor-chord majesty.
Former single 'Higher Than Reason' paints a pretty accurate picture of
the band's strengths, with its sad jangling guitars pattering like rain
on a window pane, but the highlight is 'Settle Down', Yorke and drummer
Nigel Powell's voices entwined around chiming guitars and swooning
Hammond swirls. Almost as beautiful are the murky menace of 'Forget
About Me', and the creeping strum of 'Angel', sounding like a far-off
thunderstorm threatening to break.
'The Bends Part II' it certainly isn't; it's a gem, an album that moves
you not with muscle but with a murmur. *****
(thanks to Owen)