We Met At Sea claims to hear The Pigeon Detectives abandon their 'polished indie-rock for something more plugged in, unpredictable and real'. And that statement just about sums the album up: confused and at a loss for ideas. The Pigeon Detectives' careless tales of lust and lost love were never 'polished'. We Met At Sea sees the Indie quintet trying to relinquish the unrefined and unpolished appeal that gave them their identity in the first place. What's left is an unmemorable album that's more of the same with less originality.
It's understandable though, why The Pigeon Detectives are trying something different. It's been six years since Wait For Me (2007) reached number three in the album charts. Yet in trying to produce a record that's more 'plugged in', they've turned out something that's too soft and diluted for a one-time grimy indie band. The hooks aren't what they once were and their album yearns to be something different and 'unpredictable'.
The album does have its positives. There are elements of We Met At Sea that remind you of The Pigeons of old. Some of the songs have that live energy which so many bands try to capture on record. The lyrics are simple and trigger the imagination. The lines in I Won't Come Back depict the downfall of a love-struck teenager wearing drain pipes. Unforgettable captures the ecstasy and tribulations of a turbulent love affair. There's pessimism, regret and a young arrogance. It's what The Pigeon Detectives are all about.
It's easy to imagine some of the songs from We Met At Sea being woven into one of The Pigeon Detectives' wild live sets. A Sheffield Academy or Leadmill would be bursting at the seams. Yet the bill would still be dominated by songs from their debut album. Opening song Animal is nothing to get excited about. Tracks Can't You Find Me and I Don't Mind don't get frenetic enough and chant-like until the second half of the song. No State to Drive and Where You Are just don't quite have enough impact.
Amongst the high pitched electric guitar and fast drums, there's still the same appealing Yorkshire twang to every song. In fact, there's not enough of it. Not enough shouting. Not enough resentment. Hold Your Gaze, which surprisingly works, uses pitch correction and is hardly recognisable as a Pigeon Detectives track. Light Me Up just drifts by unnoticed. The music industry is forever dangling the provocative bait of watered down music and pop stardom in front of raw indie acts. And in We Met At Sea, The Pigeon Detectives seem to have fallen for it hook, line and sinker.