These are good times for British rock. Brighton's Royal Blood sit atop the national album chart with their debut album, Glasgow's Twin Atlantic gatecrashed the Top 10 one week earlier with the excellent Great Divide, and there are big releases incoming from Marmozets, Enter Shikari, Gallows and Young Guns among others.
Lonely The Brave’s own contribution to this swelling wave has been a long time coming. Recorded back in 2012, and originally scheduled for a June 2 release on respected UK indie Hassle Records, The Day’s War was nudged back to a September release when the Cambridge quintet signed a worldwide deal with Columbia, home of Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam, just two of the artists who’ve impacted upon the band’s evocative, widescreen sound. It’s easy to see why Columbia went out on a limb for the group. Though this is their debut album, Lonely The Brave aren’t kids, and The Day’s War is assuredly the world of men not boys, a beautifully measured, grown up rock record comprised of brooding, affecting anthems which shine a light on growing pains and the often-troubled transition from adolescence to adulthood.
If you’ve heard anything from the group to date, it’ll likely be the magnificent Backroads, a poetic, abstract tale of facing up to life’s travails, borne aloft on chiming, building guitars and frontman David Jakes’ remarkable, soulful voice. And the good news here is that the band’s calling card doesn’t overshadow the material which surrounds it. Black Saucers is LTB at their most aggressive, a nightmarish vision of a troubled youth trying to silence the clamour of voices in his head, with Jakes singing “I’ve been drinking with those demons, those creatures with the claws…I’ve been pushing their heads underground, backwards to the core.” Album opener Trick Of The Light is equally intense, the vocalist asking “Am I doomed forever, will this ending never come? Can someone give me something to call it off?” as Mark Trotter and Joel Mason’s guitars scrap and rumble beneath. Deserter occupies the hinterland between Pearl Jam and The National, with a chorus that launches skywards, while Victory Line is a stirring mediation on holding on to the ones you love as the ground crumbles beneath your feet, pitching you into an uncertain future. This is music to obsess over, to fall in love to, to pull around you as darkness descends, and it’s hard not to be swept along in the undertow.
Given that The Day’s War was recorded a full two years ago, Lonely The Brave’s biggest problem in the coming 12 months may be holding back while the world catches up with them. But they face the future with an album of remarkable depth and quality, a collection as strong as any to emerge in 2014. Few young bands sound as ready and capable for the journey ahead. We wish them godspeed.