Like every new British band to straddle the nu-folk scene, London-based quintet Dry the River have had to deal with the shadow of Mumford and Sons looming over them, despite forming a year before Sigh No More brought the tweed waistcoat back into fashion. Take a couple of songs from their debut album, Shallow Bed, such as the rousing, string-laden romance of "The Chambers & the Valves," and the slow-building pastoral folk of "Shield Your Eyes" out of context, and the comparisons don't seem too wide off the mark. But with Interpol and the National producer Peter Katis on board, the majority of its 12 tracks are grittier and far less twee than Mumford's country bumpkin fare. Opener "Animal Skins" sets the more adventurous tone, combining chiming U2-esque riffs with a muddy low-slung bassline and a glorious, gospel-tinged chorus; "Lion's Den" begins as an elegant slice of sophisticated Baroque pop before bursting into life with a furious post-rock crescendo; while "Weights & Measures" blends the grandiose indie rock of Biffy Clyro with the wintry harmonies of Fleet Foxes. Indeed, there are times when Shallow Bed appears more suited to the valleys of the Deep South than the quaint English countryside, particularly on the more delicate numbers such as the eerie grunge-blues of "Bible Belt" and the lush, hymnal Americana of "Demons," while frontman Peter Liddle's heartfelt tones often recall the impassioned dramatics of Brandon Flowers, especially on the Tarantino-meets-Phil Spector "New Ceremony" and the chest-thumping stadium rock of "No Rest." Liddle has previously described their sound as "folky gospel music played by a post-punk band," and Shallow Bed's eclectic spiritual nature proves that isn't just hollow talk.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien