Well, that’s exactly the case with this new album from Glasgow band FOR ABEL. The opening track ‘Telephone’ had me scratching my head momentarily. Not only was the music familiar, but the song title was too! Didn’t I see a Glasgow band called Nacional play this ‘live’ a few times? Wait! Didn’t I even review this song when Nacional released it as a single on the Art Goes Pop label, oh, maybe eighteen months ago?
The answer is ‘yes, I did.’ Perhaps I should have read the accompanying Press Sheet before hitting he ‘play’ button. Had I done so, I would have appreciated the fact that FOR ABEL are indeed the same band, having changed their name to prevent confusion (or possible litigation?) from The National.
Wow! Now I was excited. A whole album, forty-four minutes of music from a band whose earlier single (the aforementioned ‘Telephone’) and a 2009 six track ‘showreel’ CD that I was given, left me desperate for more, only for them to disappear from the radar totally.
The obvious reference point in any other review you read (not that you really need bother) will be The Wedding Present. And yes, there is no escaping the similarity in style. But it’s not just quite as simple as that. One bottle of red wine doesn’t taste the same as any other bottle of ‘red,’ does it? There are subtle nuances, little hints of other ingredients that differentiate. And the same applies to FOR ABEL.
Opening track ‘Telephone,’ has little touches of The Cure in the guitar work. ‘I Want To See You Sway’ brings warm recollections of another band, but I’ll get to that in a minute. ‘On TV’ has featured in Channel 4’s ‘FIFA Road To The World Cup’ documentary. It’s also been used by Sky Sports for their ‘live football’ adverts I think my favourite track ‘Yorkshire’ has also found a telephone niche – another sports programme I think, the name of which escapes me right now.)
‘First Killing’ slow the pace a bit and it is this track as well as the earlier ‘I Want To See You Sway’ that remind me of very early James. Not the ‘Sit Down’ era James, but the debut album ‘Stripmine,’ James. The vocals are moody and downbeat, yet still quite anthemic. They’re quite ‘Tim Booth’ in his younger days.
‘Lucas,’ returns to the furious guitars and pumping bass lines with a higher, slightly flat vocal style. ‘Chorus’ is FOR ABEL’S stadium anthem. You wait and see! ‘You Wear It Well’ is as far removed from Rod Stewart as Brit Ekland (no – I don’t know where that line came from either) before ‘Broken Hands’ slows the pace but cranks up the intensity, leading into the album closer, ‘Forward Killing,’ which is like a reprise of the earlier ‘First Killing.’
I’ve just given a very ‘bare bones’ review here and can possibly embellish it by re-quoting from my reviews of the band in their Nacional days:
‘I hear Morrissey. I hear Joy Division and New Order. I hear The Wedding Present. That is not intended as a slight. Rather, it should be viewed as a big slice of Compliment. FOR ABEL are no wannabee imitators or charlatan impostors. They definitely have the potential to take the sound forward.’
In fact, FOR ABEL could actually be a whole John Peel radio show on their own and if they do not make the breakthrough to general acceptance this year, then I’m gonna have to chuck this reviewing lark!
Tell me I’m wrong – you can listen to the whole album here.
(Released through Flowers In The Dustbin Records on 16th May 2011)
(10 / 10)