It was over two years ago that I first came across ‘The Left Outside’, although their name had flickered briefly on my radar. That very album ( The Shape Of Things To Come) was reviewed on this very blog. The album became a firm favourite, it ticked so many boxes and to get the balance of dark and light is something so many artist strive to achieve but very few do. So I have to admit that as excited as I was about a new album, it was a nervous excitement because it had a lot to live to.
The album opens with ‘The Unbroken Circle’ and it’s the kind of opener that I hoped I would hear. Mark Nicholas ( one half of the husband and wife duo along with Alison Cotton that make up the band) takes the lead. In fact it is the first two songs (the other being ‘Naming Shadows Was Your Existence’) that really set the tone for this album with the intertwining musicianship as the electric and acoustic drift in and out of each other. There are times when the album feels ancient with John Barleycorn overtones, other times it may seem almost whimsical, or foreboding, whatever emotion or story they are telling it is done so with an almost melancholic beauty. Stylistically there are artists and songs that spring to mind, Nico, Nick Drake, Mazzy Star or maybe Grantchester Meadows by Pink Floyd. Songs such as ‘Down To The Waterside’ and ‘All Those I danced With Are Gone’ resonated with me on a personal level, for reasons of which I am not sure and I think that is the albums strength. The album has a hidden power and depth that is obviously there from the outset, yet it requires further listening to reveal more layers but it never quite giving away all its secrets. The music uses melody, vocal harmonies and arrangements as its chosen weapon to snare the listener I feel that this is something that there is not enough of at the moment.
There are countless bands out there that can jam for hours or create the sound of a star going supernova and when it’s done right it is a wonderful thing, this album does none of those things, this feels like something fresh and clean. To say this is their best album to date would undermine their previous albums but one thing sure it’s going to be a long time before it’s taken off the turntable.