Well. Where to start? I approached this album with a spring in my step and a twinkle in my eye: I’ve heard great things about Glasgow’s Die Hard. Formed in 2011, apparently they spent much of the year holed up in a flat in the city centre recording this debut long player.
It’s a bold album; ambitious in scope and challenging in approach. Reading that back it sounds like I’m trying to be kind whilst slipping into euphemisms. In a way I am. It’s a record which promises much but, ultimately, delivers very little we’ve not heard before. Opening track Nailed to the Cross is about as mainstream and accessible as the record gets. And it’s perfectly fine. It’s almost, almost like something from Kassidy’s Hope Street before shimmering into Swim Until You Can’t See Land-style Frightened Rabbit on 980C.
There’s a deftness and sureness of purpose to the album which calls to mind the likes of Sigur Ros or Explosions in the Sky. The production is excellent – swelling synths and quirky basslines abound but, unfortunately there are moments – notably on In The Garden – where the band get carried away and that song in particular sounded like someone with a hi-hat had been let loose in the BBC’s sound effects department.
There’s lots to like here; lots of wee bits. As well as the FRabbits, I was getting echoes of Arcade Fire and wee glimpses of The Airborne Toxic Event. At points it felt like I was listening to a souped-up, electronic version of the Secondhand Marching Band but, sadly, without their inherent charm.
The album feels like it never quite gets started – as though it’s part of something else which hasn’t really got going. All the elements are there, from the traces of Scottish contemporaries Kid Canaveral and Little Eskimos to the astute production, but for me the parts are greater than the whole.
The self-titled debut album is out on 27th February through Halleluwah Hits.
Review by Bryan Bregg