Tin Spirits: Scorch

The eclectic crew turn up the heat on album two.

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

While retaining that Byrd-ish twang, Swindon’s Tin Spirits seem less indebted to the gravitational pull of their collective influences for this, their second album. Though there’s plenty of connective tissue to link this release to their 2011 debut, Wired To Earth, they’ve dispensed with redundant cover versions in order to give themselves the necessary space to develop. That increasing confidence as a unit suits them well.

Though marketed as a progressive rock act, Tin Spirits understand precisely what it takes to make a truly great pop song. This isn’t to damn them with faint praise – far from it. It takes real skill to create a credible and convincing world in a very short space of time with a telling lyric or an apposite chord, enabling the listener to immediately identify with what they’re hearing; the love that’s lost or the thrill of finding it anew.

There are several examples of this aspect at work, and perhaps the best is found in the damnably catchy Summer Now. Scooping up some of the floating, limpid qualities found on 2011’s track Glimmer, they’ve distilled it into a perfect evocation of dappled glades and sun-drenched cornfields. Amid its gentle lope, ex-XTC guitarist Dave Gregory’s spotlighted cadenza takes flight, soaring and dipping against the backdrop of a chord suspended in the haze.

The comparison might be fanciful, and the band would probably guffaw heartily at it, but in its own way it’s as poignant and as quintessentially English as the pastoral reverie bookending Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. Sure, the style and times have obviously changed, but in just the few bars of a dazzling, heartfelt run, Gregory’s solo captures a sense not only of a moment that has passed but, crucially, the hope and promise of things to come.

Scorch is an album brimming with painstakingly detailed miniatures located within a bigger picture. For this, some praise must be directed towards producer Paul Stacey, who has given these songs added depth. As an aside, Stacey’s production acumen was the power behind the throne of The Syn’s 2005 reunion album, Syndestructible, and his ear for detail is put to good use here. Songs such as instrumental opener Carnivore, plus Old Hands and Binary Man all push towards harder moods without losing any poetic brevity.

The beguiling, rolling patterns described by the interlacing acoustic guitars of She Moves Among Us, a prelude to the long‑form musing of Garden State, brilliantly demonstrate that sometimes powerful music doesn’t have to depend on an amp turned all the way up to 11.

Sid Smith

Sid's feature articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Prog, Classic Rock, Record Collector, Q, Mojo and Uncut. A full-time freelance writer with hundreds of sleevenotes and essays for both indie and major record labels to his credit, his book, In The Court Of King Crimson, an acclaimed biography of King Crimson, was substantially revised and expanded in 2019 to coincide with the band’s 50th Anniversary. Alongside appearances on radio and TV, he has lectured on jazz and progressive music in the UK and Europe.  

A resident of Whitley Bay in north-east England, he spends far too much time posting photographs of LPs he's listening to on Twitter and Facebook.