Monday, March 12, 2012

Review: The Walls - Stop The Lights

'Stop The Lights' is the latest chapter in the eventful lives of  The Walls. Following the split of the vehicle for their first brush with fame The Stunning, Joe and Steve Wall found themselves in major label limbo for several years. The label didn't like their name and tried to saddle them with pathetic alternatives. This led to a breakdown between the two parties and The Walls eventually returned to Ireland and their major label début never saw the light of day. 

Undeterred, The Walls started a fresh eventually releasing Hi-Lo in 2000 which spawned the hit 'Bone Deep'. Whilst a vanishing master tape led to "To The Bright and Shining Sun" being inescapable in the summer of 2002 via an extensive AIB advertising campaign. 2005's album 'New Dawn Breaking' divided fans and critics alike, such was the major change of direction from electro tinged bass-heavy pop, to more traditional folk rock material. Their new album 'Stop The Lights' sees them reach a happy medium between their two previous albums, whilst also progressing simultaneously in a new direction. The result is their best album to date.

The album opens with single 'Bird In A Cage' an autobiographical chronicle of The Wall's moving from Dublin to Galway in their youth. Their struggle to adapt and integrate into a rural setting, and how Galway then shaped their lives.  This track also seems like an unspoken ode to their parents.  Single 'Phantom Power' is a jaunty track which sees Joe Wall, deliver an impressive falsetto throughout the verses. His brother Steve Wall, has always had one of the most distinctive and instantly recognisable voices in Irish music, but his voice has never sounded as vital as it does on this album.

Lyrically the album centres on Irish life, past and present, with references to the famine, emigration, and in particular references to the current recession. The lyrics also use many colloquialisms such as the title track 'Stop The Lights'.  This track finds The Walls, in fan-friendly uptempo bass-heavy territory, with hummable radio friendly melodies combining slickly throughout.  'The Great Escape' is an unexpected atmospheric treat, built on a dark bed of orchestral sounds and Arcade Fire-esque drums. There's a hint of U2 about would be single 'It Goes Without Saying'. 'Dead Flowers' the rockiest track on the album, will no doubt be a live favourite for years to come, with its crunchy bass line and sing along chorus of "What goes around is gonna come around".

'Carrying The Fire' the first single to be taken from the album (way back in 2010) is yet another radio friendly gem. Unusually it's an emigration tale, based on the Irish flight from the famine to a better live in America. It's a timely reminder and testament to the Irish spirit, which will resonate with the new diaspora around the world.

'Stop The Lights' may have been seven years in the making but it was well worth the wait. The Wall's are back, and back with a bang.

No comments: