With their third full-length release, Bath-based neo soul rockers The Heavy have rebottled their advert-friendly sound for another take. This time round, the four-piece took off to the spiritual home of their distinctly American South dingy rock (specifically Columbus, Georgia) in order to record The Glorious Dead and, whilst the blueprint goes largely unchanged, the album does contain one or two moments that prick your ears up.
Complete with a gospel choir now, the band have invested the money they must have made from being the spokes-group for Strongbow, Kia, a host of movies, TV programmes and video game advertisements well in adding a dash of spice to the mix. With 'How You Like Me Now' and the like still in people's consciousness, it was interesting to see how the band could maybe shake off these shackles and perhaps set sail in another direction. In actual fact, the band have done nothing like that and have stuck to the ethos that Will Smith (when he was the Fresh Prince) so wisely said on 'Summertime'; "if it ain't broke then don't try and fix it."
'Can't Play Dead' makes good use of the added vocal power to back up the already powerful voice of Kelvin Swaby by the time the chorus comes round, but is still very-much what you would expect to hear from The Heavy. When 'Curse Me Good' comes round, we do notice a tonal shift, with the track sounding more Cloud 9-era George Harrison or even Texas than it does the same people who recorded The House That Dirt Built. Still, the shift even further into the pop hemisphere is not exactly one that takes you aback and leaves you on the edge of your seat begging for more. As antithetical as it may sound, after hearing the band tread into these unchartered waters, you are almost pining for them to return to their marquee sound; something that 'What Makes A Good Man?' does with ease. This song in particular is everything you would expect the band to produce and will no doubt be gracing the airwaves in-between the football in the near future.
I hate to say it, mainly because it makes me sound like a d**k, but The Heavy are one of those bands where you feel that if you've heard one song, you've heard them all. They're a talented bunch, there's little doubt in that, but at the end of the day you could make that same comment about a whole host of bands and that still doesn't make them any more rewarding to listen to. They are a band very much at home in the realm of beer (or cider) adverts and sports channel previews and, apart from a few instances, don't look like they are planning on moving away from that realm. That said, for a band from the South of England, few can pull off this brand of Midwestern American rock-with-an-edge as well The Heavy does. Three albums in, they have proved that they can continue to ride this steady wave of success without throwing too much caution to the wind, something I'm sure they could get at least another two albums out of.
One thing we can take away from this album, however, is its final track 'Blood Dirt Love Stop'; a gloriously swooning song complete with strings, horns and a choral wave throughout on which Swaby's vocals soar above. The band members play to each of their strengths and, at the end of what is a fairly unmoving journey, you are rewarded quite justly for your effort and all of a sudden you forget that you were considering turning the album off a few tracks ago because frankly, with 'Blood Dirt Love Stop', the band have crafted perhaps their best song to date. Let's hope they take this route in future and incorporate this much grander sound as it is a sound that suits them to the ground and marks a real sign of progression and forward thinking.
The Heavy's Website -