Tall Ships

Everything Touching

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Following the release of two strong if slightly self-conscious EPs, Everything Touching, the debut album from Falmouth, England's Tall Ships, is undoubtedly the product of a band full of patience. Giving themselves the time and space needed to grow and find their formula before taking the full-length plunge, the three-piece's time on tour played a huge part, providing an essential learning curve that encouraged them to play to their strengths in the studio. For starters, the guitars are louder, taking center stage with crunching, gutsy riffs that make the quiet, subtle moments all the more poignant. Opener "T=0" opts to snake tonal shifts around a constant, infectious guitar line, providing it with new breathing space at every turn; it's a musical high-five moment, more reminiscent of Fang Island than Foals. While earlier work on their self-titled debut EP and There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here EP boasted often exquisitely crafted math-rock guitar lines and playful synths, Everything Touching is far more direct, less convoluted, often shamelessly anthemic. The two reworkings of previous tracks "Books" and "Ode to Ancestors" are themselves living proof of these sonic shifts, evidence that the bandmembers were not content with what they created the first time around. "Books" now pairs the oddball synths that dominated the original with a huge piano line, dropping both alongside a swelling bass to channel Sigur Rós and, in turn, lend the composition the drama it always deserved. Meanwhile, "Ode to Ancestors" welcomes a far more confident and accomplished vocal from Ric Phethean than on 2010's recording. Stopping just shy of a cappella, it may not be personal enough for everyone's tastes, but the scientific romance ("Within you every particle is perfect/And your beating heart the sum of many working parts") rings out loud and true before the xylophone-led cacophony interrupts, decidedly less fairground waltz this time around. Phethean's vocals again shine on lead single "Gallop," which, with its galloping (for want of a different word) beat, is the closest the band has come yet to a mainstream radio hit, but suitable contrast is provided on nine-minute album closer "Murmurations." Confidently building from a distant pulse into a joyous electronic bounce, complete with uplifting choir, it's a fittingly patient finale.

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