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.