The Barnum Meserve: The Barnum Meserve

Epic trio turn up the drama on their debut album.

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This intriguingly named Nottingham threesome have been threatening to do something special for a few years now.

It’s taken a while for them to record this debut album, but they’ve been able to give it the sumptuous production their unashamedly epic, cinematic sound demands. The dark-clouds-gathering atmospherics of first track War Games is but a prelude to even more expansive widescreen musical visions. Colours is swathed in sumptuous strings, Don’t Be Afraid is punctuated with drum rolls evoking massed armies pouring down a Scottish hillside, and Open Up Your Eyes is a hands-to-heaven cri de coeur. They make a huge sound. Crudely put, like ‘Keane on steroids’. The only drawback is that it’s sometimes relentlessly full-on: they seem to operate in Force 10 windswept mode most of the time. If it’s a little exhausting to listen to, then Christ knows what it’s like to perform. Leon Wiley’s agonised holler is exhilarating in medium-sized doses, but can sound one-dimensional when it’s his only means of expression. Amid all this are promising touches of subtlety, and the brooding Talk Talk moodiness of Underneath The Grey is particularly captivating.

Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock