The Narrows - The Eve of Invasion
Serious times call for serious artists and they don't come much more serious than Manchester's brooding electro rockers The Narrows. For a band called The Narrows their debut album The Eve of Invasion is impressively broad in both scope and sound. They explore guilt, conspiracy, paranoia and political hypocrisy with a sound that ranges from gloomy electronica, to angry rock and haunting trip hop. This is music with a message, fuck dance lets' proselytise.
With songs about the Kennedy assassination ('Zapruder'), 9/11 ('The Falling Man') and the lessons learned from the rise of fascism in Germany ('German Children') this is a seriously dark album for seriously dark times. It's an album that sounds like the product of a gang of unemployed cynical history professors with clinical depression and a love of OK Computer and Kasabian's debut album.
The trio go on the attack right from the start with the storming 'Able Danger' and thought provoking 'We Invent Enemies' which sounds like Kasabian taking New Order on at a game of Space Invaders. 'Boiler Room Girl', a song about the death of the unfortunate Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick, is a moody ballad that recalls the seriously underrated and unfairly maligned Mansun at their best. 'There Are Ghosts In The Machine' is, as you'd probably expect from the title, cold, chilling and mechanical glitch pop with a trippy Radiohead vibe. By way of contrast the punky 'I Make My Car Crash' is fast, furious, urgent rock that's driven along by pounding drums and razor sharp guitars with phasers set to stun. The band's cynicism with the political establishment is perfectly summed up when lead singer Phil Drinkwater laconically intones "we're at war with Iran even though you say that we're not." The album draws to a close with the epic, seven minute long 'German Children', a heavy end to a mentally draining album.
It's not clear what invasion The Narrows think we're on the eve of but they obviously believe that anything is better than what we've got now. They're the house band of the conspiracy theorists, a trio of musical Jerry Fletcher's, Mel Gibson's obsessive compulsive New York City taxi driver, lecturing listeners on their latest obsessions. They're the musical equivalent of those ranters at Hyde Park Speakers' Corner promoting their unique, apocalyptic view of the world. The Eve of Invasion is heavy going, and while they're to be applauded for eschewing the small town concerns of most of their contemporaries and delivering a set of serious songs that engage the brain rather than the feet, ultimately it leaves you with a pervading feeling of gloom and despair at a world gone wrong. For the Narrows that's presumably mission accomplished.