Sunday, 9 March 2014

Album review: Young Animal Hearts - Spring Offensive


The long-awaited debut album from Oxford's Spring Offensive will be released tomorrow (10th March) and although it's been a long time coming, it's certainly worth the wait. Having been recommended by fellow Oxford musicians Stornoway in an interview with NotAnotherRainySunday in 2011, Spring Offensive are only just releasing their first full-length record, demonstrating the meticulous preparation that has gone into making it. 

The album opens with the darkly beautiful 'Not Drowning But Waving', with the lyrics focusing on a man's guilt of letting someone drown. Frontman, Lucas Whitworth, sings "a freezing mist comes rolling in. I will be blamed for this one", the stark lyrics perfectly fitting with the richness of haunting four-part harmonies. A clever take on Stevie Smith's poem 'Not Waving But Drowning', Spring Offensive are a poetic bunch - the band name is taken from the Wilfred Owen poem of the same name. Their songs follow great narratives, and refreshingly are not always about love. 'Hengelo' is a case in point, written about 'Forest Boy', a mysterious young man who appeared in Berlin alone, claiming to have lived in the forest for five years.  

'Bodylifting' has a distinctive Spring Offensive feel to it, with sumptuous vocal harmonies mixed with grungy guitars. The song is a popular favourite on the album, gaining itself airtime on Radio 1 last week. The beauty of Spring Offensive's music is that songs like the punchy 'Bodylifting' can appear on the same album as songs with sweeter melodies like 'Carrier', showcasing the band's range in styles. Despite the gentler sounds of 'Carrier', the lyrics still retain a seductive melancholia that arches over the majority of the band's music, with Whitworth singing, "it works like a sick bug, I'm not feeling myself, it makes me curl up, it makes me wish I was dead". 

It's hard to fit Spring Offensive into an exact genre, but perhaps this is a blessing for the band. Their music is a unique mix of guitar rock and driving drum beats, without losing the elegance of simple and catchy melodies and vocal harmonies. With the album funded completely through crowd-sourcing, it's clear that the band's fanbase is rapidly growing, and it's no surprise why. Young Animal Hearts is a triumph with each song proving equally as thought-provoking as the previous. Spring Offensive not only make clever music, but music that can survive listen after listen without ever growing old. Be prepared to have to this album stuck on repeat. 

Head to Oxford's Truck Store at 6pm tomorrow where Spring Offensive will be playing to celebrate the release of Young Animal Hearts. 
Read NotAnotherRainySunday's interview with Spring Offensive back in 2012. 

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