This Modern Hope
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BREAKING away- when it comes to releasing solo material …
can be tricky- especially when used to the comforts of a band. When I first started speaking with Rob Payne- one of This Modern Hope’s heroes- he was part of a stunning band: the mighty (The) Bedroom Hour. That group- fuelled by their Elbow-Meets-The-London-Streets poetry- struck the public consciousness: their music contained anthemic uplift; stunning performances- tender emotions into the mix. Describing them in the past tense is quite tough: they were among my favourite acts (of the last few years). With consistently tight-knit performances- leveed to songwriting that surpassed their peers- it seemed they had an enormous future- king of the festival circuit, no less. Unfortunately- and it is the way of music- the band called it quits: decided to part company and go off (on their own). Whether creative differences- or the pressures of financing their own music- The Bedroom Hour are no more. Mr. Payne now steps away from the band: This Modern Hope is his latest incarnation. With a moniker that is appropriately apt- the music already produced is capable of uniting festival crowds (and exciting critics far and wide). A stunning group- with a clear direction and confidence- that is sure to go a long way: there is a definitely a gap for them in (this rather busy) market. I shall circle back to the band, but for now, there is a point to raise: the life of the new band. I have seen (too many) acts capitulate and collapse: the strains of gaining a foothold should not be underestimated. Some terrific acts- from The Bedroom Hour to Crystal Seagulls- have departed. It is hard to pinpoint a reason- as to why this is happening- and look at a solution. I guess there will always be creative differences- for bands that are together for a while. Personalities (and differing opinions) get in the way; the members have different ideals- invariably this can lead to break-up. Finance is another issue: the cost of funding a music career can be astronomical. It is always heartbreaking- when looking at great bands call it quits- and something that is happening quite a lot- the best bands survive (sometimes it seems) by sheer luck. It sounds rather cynical, yet music is a lottery: sometimes the best do not survive; some need a lot of luck. When it comes to music- and the band market in particular- the current crop is (largely) male-led: the sounds being put out can be quite similar. If you look at the mainstream- and the bands currently working away- and you will find similarities: few established acts really stand out clearly. There is a hell of a lot of Indie acts; some interesting Rock acts- artists with Electro.-Pop avenues. The music’s best and brightest (bands) are well-established and veterans- having been on the scene for quite a few years- and there are few (truly unique) new (mainstream) artists. To my mind- and not that I am an expert- the solo artists (of the mainstream) are impressing the most- and providing the most fascinating new releases. The artists of the underground are always more tanitlising: there seems to be greater invention and diversity; better mobility and passion. This Modern Hope have a certain something about them: they employ shades of (established acts) whilst retaining a clear personality- their music is very much inspired by their own lives/experiences. Having crafted a number of tracks- the band are in their infancy still- there is a lot of promise: a new album is in the works; it is only a matter of time before good things shape up. Payne is no stranger to great reviews: as part of The Bedroom Hour, critics salivated (when it came to their songs and records). A stunning and original guitarist, his talents resonated with me: he brings his charm, intelligence and talents to This Modern Hope- a three-worded band to rival the best of them.
Tear Me Down– one of This Modern Hope’s new works- is orchestral and sweeping: the introduction has grandeur and passion; plenty of chilling emotion. Lush and proud, bracing and embracing, there are shades of Elbow-meets-Oasis. With his voice showcasing parts (of Noel Gallagher’s) northern burr, Payne has hints of (the Oasis front-man’s) voice- whilst injecting plenty of his own passion and personality. Building from a stunning- and richly symphonic- introduction, the track never lets go: tender vocals meet with southern pride- there is a love story on the rocks. Our hero (looks back at) mistakes and errors: he is letting his heart pour out. Yearning for his love- a sweetheart he is pining for- it seems (that she) completes him. It is a short and sweet song (that lingers long in the imagination). By contrast- and a track that is only five days old- FlashBack is more intimate and soft. Washes of Folk beauty overcome (the listener); legends like Nick Drake and Neil Young (can be detected at times) – it is a song that looks at hazy memories; a romance that is blossoming. With spring vibes- the warmth and tenderness of the finger-picking- and winter chill- the affecting and romantic lyrics- there is plenty to admire. The song’s lyrics look at remembrance and recollection: our hero never wants (to let go of his girl); their romance is just beginning- the sighed and haunting backing vocals add shivers to the lyrics. Pastoral acoustic guitar- tied with direct and impassioned vocals- give the track a consistent momentum- it is a track that counterbalances the force and rush of Tear Me Down. Having a trio of tracks in the bag- and these being the embryonic steps of This Modern Hope- it is hard to compare and examine- these are the raw and early steps; the first chance to witness the band. In terms of quality, you cannot hint at any criticisms: the tracks are both different and stunning; each has their own idea and voice- both will demand the listener to repeat (until the full majesty and force comes to the fore). Slow-burning- yet immediate and instant- the songs are fully-rounded and professional. Payne knows his way around a great song- having been in the forefront of the Bedroom Hour mix- and it shows here: the singer/guitarist turns in a duo of terrific efforts. Stepping away from his band work- whilst keeping some of The Bedroom Hour’s lovelorn-cum-hopeful strength in tact- Payne has crafted something quite special. Home sits into the fold seamlessly: different from FlashBack and Tear Me Down– it is a track that is a natural playmate- and something distinctly wonderful.
When Home begins, so do the shivers: the introduction builds and swells (much like Tear Me Down). Walls are closing in; our man is starting to feel a strain- he has to get away from (this place). With his voice fully in command- both aching and controlled- the initial moments are affecting and urgent. After that graceful introduction- which is a mini-opera in itself- there is no rush and over-insistence (Payne makes sure he lets the song breath and expand naturally). Taking his “last-ever gasp”, our hero seems disaffected and in turmoil: looking to escape from here, he wants to start again. It is his pride- in his own words- that carries him home. When it comes to (these initial moments), Payne is in reflective mood: his words are those everyone can relate to. What is terrific about the track- among other things it has to be said- is the composition. Not your usual throw-something-vague-into-the-mix-and-hope-for-the-best, Payne takes care and consideration- the notes and beats are disseminated to eek the maximum emotional pay-off. Not overly-earnest and forceful, there is a naturalness and intuition: a man who is used to crafting top-notch tracks; someone with experience in these matters. There are no nerves or unsure utterances: everything on display is delivered with the utmost conviction and passion. Those Noel Gallagher comparisons made start to come in: at times Payne sounds like Gallagher (circa. What’s The Story (Morning Glory)?). That- mixed with a bit of Elbow’s early work- and you have something that is at once familiar (in a good way) and original. Being influenced by the northern masters- Elbow and Oasis- and employing tales of his current (being based around the outskirts of London) there is a great coming-together- the sounds of the north with the stories of the south. Too many bands- and solo acts, in fact- come across as boring and underwhelming. Through a song- that is not your workaday explosion of guitars and histrionics- and you get a stunning piece. Able to draw in their listener- by the power and pride of the words; the grip and potency of the composition- and you are hooked. The story at work- our hero and his girl- with its romance and yearning; it is something we can all relate to- a familiar tale. The way the words are employed- and the choice of words to begin with- is original and memorable. You can build images and possibilities; picture the scenes as they unfold- become involved with every note and line. Kudos must go to the composition itself: a soundscape that is never-ending in its potential. A man (and band) that looks out for the affected- and represents their struggle- Home is a song for the every-man: a tale that is designed to unite (and inspire the listener). Backed by exceptional production values- that allow the vocal to sit up top; whilst letting the composition chance to breathe and affect- the track is crystal-clear and unfettered- as natural and open as any I have heard. Shimmering and anthemic, here is a song for the masses: something (maybe consciously) designed for the crowds- to my mind it would be the perfect album opener (if Payne is looking at track listing; which track fits where). If you are looking for a new song (and a great new band), you should definitely begin here.
There are a lot of Indie/Alternative acts kicking about: a lot of my reviews tend to feature quite same-same bands. The band market itself is synonymous with (these particular genres) and it can be hard distinguishing the very best (from the distinctly average). For every Elbow you get a lot of arse- I can tell the difference between the two. The former- and why that act are lauded and celebrated- comes down to three things: stunning and everyman lyrics (Guy Garvey is a master of the suburban lovelorn); tremendous consistency (the band craft stunning albums without losing their stride) and flexibility- Elbow started to write ‘happier’ songs when Garvey confessed he was “too happy” to write (woe-is-me tales of disconnectedness). Bad/average bands do not abide by (these rules): they are placid and flaccid; immobile and generic- crafting the most beige and aimless of songs. This Modern Hope are inspired by (in their own words) “bravado, passion and carelessness”. It is these ingredients of grit, youthfulness and uplift that make the music what it is: sounds of the public; songs that resonate with everyone; truly memorable tales. Knowing Payne- and his talents as a songwriter- it is clear (when a debut album drops) there will be plenty of range and colour- lots of diversions and side-streets; songbooks crammed with fascinating themes and dreams. Home is just the start of things. In spite of the tried-and-tested title (it is one of the most common song/album titles of all-time) there is nothing ordinary at work here: the track is at once personal and comforting; it is exhilarating and fresh- like nothing I have heard lately. Excelsior to his music and dreams: let us hope the band take off; get the recognition truly deserved. This Modern Hope plan on dropping an album: through crowd-funding and sourcing, there will be a chance (for the public to make it a reality). If you do see that notification- I will be sure to share it around social media- make sure you donate- and get on the ground floor of an awesome endeavor. Home is where the heart is; FlashBack and Tear Me Down are free to investigate- make sure you head on over (to the SoundCloud page for the band). I will leave this review- relived, I am sure many of you are- with a brief note: concerning new acts. The promotion/publicity circuit is brutal and exhausting: getting your name recongised/augmented can be a grueling reality- something that leads to heartache and anxiety. Even the greatest acts struggle to get acclaim and attention- finding public ears disgracefully ill-informed. Not to dampen This Modern Hope- and this point is meant to inspire them- but it is worth sticking with- great music deserves greater exposure and acclaim. What with there being (a huge mass of music) on the market; it can be hard discovering the best out there- wading through oceans of sounds can be a head-spinning experience. If you are looking for some great new acts- artists that are worth repeated patronage- then This Modern Hope should be included (in your regular rotation). The talent and originality is all there; the ambition is clearly formed- the urgency and passion all in place. Take some time out and jump into something new: an act with clear potential and aims for the future. When an album does arrive- whether it is this year (or next) – it will be fascinating to behold: see what This Modern Hope is all about. With a trio of songs on the market, the initial signs are deeply impressive- plenty to suggest long-term regard. Sit back; listen to the tunes- let your imagination swim. Mr. Payne (and his act) is going to be around for a while- the debut album is starting to take shape. When it is released, I am confident bigger things will arrive: festival dates, great gigs; terrific music and good times. When it all comes down to it…
THAT will be something to look forward to.
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