LETTERS are a brand, spanking new five-piece band from Edinburgh. Having formed as recently as ‘in the winter’ of 2010 (which in Edinburgh could be anytime from September onwards) they have lost no time at all in producing their first recording for consideration of the masses, with this ‘double-A’ side being issued on a free download basis ahead of full physical EP release in April 2011.
And what a strong, enjoyable, different and promising debut offering it is. Classy as well!
There are not many bands around who utilise the dark, brooding sound of a cello to bolster the bass lines and create a rather foreboding sound. Those who do would probably be lumped together by many commentators as following the successful path beaten by some more illustrious Canadian troubadours.
But on the evidence of these two songs, I’d say that any such list should not include the name of LETTERS. This one somehow begs to be different.
‘Grand National,’ starts out in a dark and haunted place, with the depth of the cello offset only by the light vocal style of singer Michael Ferguson. However, after a minute, the drums kick in, creating a lively, though still relatively gentle but bouncy feel that is accentuated by some quite delicious harmonies. It almost sounds like a face-off between light and dark; good and bad; happy and sad. The vocals are soft and the backing almost choral sounding at times. Ever constant however is the resonance of the cello as it competes for superiority with the guitars. But the only winner here is the listener who is treated to song that if produced by, say, Plain White Ts or a band of that ilk, would have national radio stations competing for the claim of having ‘discovered’ them!
‘Pipe Dreams’ does follow a similar style, I have to confess although the bass lines are a bit more prominent and the song itself has that little bit extra ‘gusto,’ as it builds in volume and depth as it progresses from its earlier, more hushed Enya-like beginnings.
I know it’s early days, and very hard to judge a band with such a distinctive sound on the strength of only two songs. However, if they can find enough variation in sound to fill their live set and an album’s worth of songs, then I’m sure LETTERS will soon spell success. (God – did I really write that last cheesy line?!)
(Released as a ‘free to download’ single on 16th February 2011)
(8.5 / 10)