This Reverend and the Makers article was written by Tom Putterill, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse
Reverend and the Makers’ fifth studio album is composed seemingly with the intentions of raising the so-far mediocre standards previously set in their ten year history. They had a successful and influential hit with ‘Heavy Weight Champion of the World’ but have failed to match or surpass their headliner record – instead resting on the thresholds of mediocrity. The record is ironically about underachievers encouraged to “be like everybody else“; this being said, the latest album is their greatest effort to exceed beyond these restrictive confines and excel mediocrity.
The Makers jetted off to Jamaica to record part of the album and the chilled, exotic influence is introduced in the inevitable success ‘Black Widow’. Imagine relaxing at a sunny beach bar whilst listening to the opening twenty five seconds of Jamaican drum tapping and percussion, before being shaken out of your seats and into a grimy underground gig in Sheffield, as the album officially explodes into that classic British Indie sound that is ceaselessly entertaining and gets the heart pounding and the head banging.
A heavy drum pulse with bass and a simple but strong and deep, eight beat guitar rhythm. Vocals tinkered with to provide a classic ‘fuzz’ effect like we’re watching an old TV. It is dark, classy and awesomely British, combined with the exotic inclusions of percussion which is inspiring. Lyrically it is just as sinister as the instrumentals – the snaking traps of a femme fatale and the wise warnings of a past victim as “She’s gonna swallow you whole because she’s a black widow.”
‘Makin Babies’ has a slightly more charming, uplifting tone. There is also a very different subject – instead of a hypnotic arachnid snaring victims in her web; it is someone worth impressing and loving. The lyrics proclaim “Everyone I know is making babies – what about us?” It’s dreamy but far from corny and it maintains a respectable degree of class and style.
The five member band has previously struggled to reach the heights of notable predecessors in their field such as Oasis and Blur; yet there are many elements in their latest work to draw respectable comparison to the aforementioned. They are undoubtedly brave and experimental in the instruments they use – with intelligent and interesting incorporations of the violin and saxophone. Despite this, there is always that essential undertone of British familiarity. Many songs contain the evocative lyrics of hopeless loves and the doomed helplessness of falling for a girl.
Although not usually related to The Makers due to their provocative front man, they are at times even melancholic and elegant. ‘The Beach and The Sea’ is an embracing duet that explores the overwhelming nature of relationships. What’s more overwhelming than claiming “I’ll be the beach and, you be the sea, I want you to wash all over me“?
To truly epitomize the brave ingenuity of the album, ‘El Cabrera’ is a curious example of Mexican/Western style. It’s different and humorous, potentially random; according to the internet, ‘cabrera’ is literally translated as goatherd, but this is an implausible explanation. It is an interesting interlude so it is hard to critique and it expresses dynamism and innovation. ‘Last to Know’ digs deep into the bare heart of music. It is beautiful and peaceful; it is simple and elegantly composed with no heavy drum base usually pivotal to a successful Indie song.
‘Mr Glasshalfempty’ is highly reminiscent in style to front man McClure’s friends at Arctic Monkeys. McClure sings “Mr Melancholy sing me something new“ – it seems they are preaching out for originality, and they may have just delivered it. ‘Lay me down’ is a slow ending to a quality album. An achievement they can be proud of.
This is a more meaningful, memorable sound from The Makers and without doubt their best collective work – John McClure agrees as he claimed it’s “the best thing we’ve ever done.” They explore the traditionally key themes of relationships: good and bad, upbeat and profound. The sound is a concoction of Jamaican and Mexican influences whilst maintaining the predominant Indie Rock. It’s humble and far from pretentious.
The main problem with the album is the name. Could they not have thought of a more original name than ‘Mirrors?’ Nevertheless this miniature grievance boasts a special compliment to the quality of the actual songs provided by rejuvenated Reverend & The Makers.
‘Mirrors’ is out on the 9th of October.