Freeze the Atlantic - Speakeasy
To say that this album has been a bloody long time in the making would be a huge understatement. Freeze the Atlantic, which features one (ex-)member of Reuben, one from Hundred Reasons, and three others from Archie and the Instincts, Twelve Titans and Talking Endlessly is something of an alt-rock 'supergroup', and a gathering of such talent would make most waits worthwhile, but frankly, it's been excruciating. It's been four years and three months since the much loved Reuben decided to call a halt to their band and go on an indefinite hiatus, and despite FTA having been active for almost four years by now, they're only just getting around to releasing their debut album, having only released the superb Colour by Numbers EP in the interim. It's fair to say, then, that there's a fair amount riding on this. The question that needs to be answered is, 'does it deliver?' - and the answer is as resounding and raucous as much of the material that makes up Speakeasy: Yes. It's an impressive rock record that doesn't pull any punches, and we're in need of albums like that.
They don't mess about, that much is for certain. Everything they do, they do with aplomb. This is why 'Crestfallen' is far more than just the album's token ballad - it's a harrowing document of the painful end of a relationship, embellished with strings, booming drums and a chorus that reaches for the stars. This is also why they frequently go all out, their brand of rock music driven by a sense of enthusiasm that colours the shifting dynamics and rhythms of 'Loses All The Romance'. The politically-minded song's parting shot is devastatingly effective, delivered passionately by lead singer Chris J Knott: "How do they get to sleep at night, when this nation's falling apart? I'll never know." Their songs, riff-driven and otherwise, have a melodic sensibility that many bands of this ilk would do terrible things for. In their quest to create something far more than just the typical alt-rock record, the band have created something that's far greater than the sum of its parts. This becomes clear the moment that opener 'Shivering and Dazed' has clattered to a halt, and the record's confidence never lets up from there; 'The Alibi' is a shining example of this, featuring accomplished drumming from Guy Davis, who's clearly at the top of his game.
Much the same can be said of the rest of the band, and when everything seems to come together, as it does on powerful closer 'Feather in a Hurricane', the impact is colossal. Anxious fans would no doubt have settled for an album that was merely worth the wait, but Speakeasy goes well beyond that. It's frequently triumphant - in its bright and infectious hooks and riffs, at least, if not its lyrical content - and it damn well should be. All that anticipation and feverish excitement has been entirely justified. As lean and focused as the punchy production and their tightly-knit sound, this album is unquestionably brilliant.