Tag Archives: Not Drowning But Waving

Review: Spring Offensive – Young Animal Hearts

20 Feb

Spring Offensive Young Animal Hearts

Debut albums don’t normally sound like greatest hits collections but Oxford’s Spring Offensive aren’t really like normal bands. Weavers of complex emotional narratives and evocative melodies, they’ve been on the scene for a number of years collecting plaudits and fans the world over. Now, having flirted with labels and the like, their album is here, released independently, funded via a Pledgemusic campaign and sounding every bit as incredible as you would expect.

They may embrace innovation and technology (they were the first band to make a video by strapping iPhones to people’s chests after all) but there is something reassuringly old fashioned about the music they make. As we’ve noted on numerous occasions, they excel at building drama and a sense of profundity into each of their songs and their tales deal with the humanity of a situation.

Take “Hengelo” for example, a song that was inspired by the remarkable story of a Dutch hoaxer who concocted an incredible fantasy to secure state assistance on his arrival in Berlin. Rather than look at this ridiculous story and the claims he made, Spring Offensive look at his motivations and the drudgery of his everyday life that drove him to such an act in the first place, and they do so in a track that bristles with energy and wonderfully evocative lyrics.

But that’s what they do; they deal in the humdrum moments of life that can build unseen into the astonishing. They seek the daily stresses of life and the undetected breaking points inside us all, reach in and mould them into songs that glide and rise, that tingle and spark as you recognise the reality within them and that stir your soul with deft arrangements and sublime melodies.

Any album that starts with a song as remarkable as “Not Drowning But Waving” (our song of the year for 2012) is likely to be something special and Young Animal Hearts more than lives up to expectation. There’s deep, undulating darkness courtesy of “The River”, a sneering track of revenge that plays like the build up to combat. Intense and powerful like a lone warrior walking to a final showdown, going mano e mano with heartbreak in a battle that culminates with smiling retribution.

In fact we could easily go through every track and effuse greatly on why each is magnificent in its own right (“Speak” is an emotional rollercoaster of subtle power and drama; “No Assets” a bold and honest tale of financial hardships during the onset of emotional maturity, “Bodylifting” dances eloquently around the dissolution of a relationship and the hope that the future can be changed, “Cut The Root” has a surprising but welcome head nodding quality to it – as examples) but Young Animal Hearts is so much greater than the sum of its (high value) parts.

There is neither a single bum note, not one misstep nor a single drop of oil in this ocean of melody, harmony and wonderfully visual, quick witted, and occasionally dry, lyrics. One of our favourites being from the sublime and swirling “Carrier” that just seems to encapsulate Spring Offensive perfectly, “This morning was spent at my window / It seems to help them in movies / but I hope that their views are less boring”.

There is melancholy, there is hope. There is heartbreak and love, violence and drama, sprawling cinematic narratives and simple day-to-day drudgery. You can sing along to the whole album or just sit back as it embeds itself in your bones, playing your emotions like a violin, rousing a beast within you and then singing it back down to sleep. They are master storytellers and masters of aural stimulation and evocation.

It’s probably not an understatement to say that Young Animal Hearts is the first great album of 2014 and one that was more than worth waiting for. Buy it and jump into their world, you won’t regret it.

’Young Animal Hearts’ is due for release on 10 March and is available for pre-order here.


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Listen: Spring Offensive – “The River”

2 Dec

Spring Offensive - The River

Typical isn’t it? Just days after noting that Spring Offensive have had a reasonably quiet 2013 (in our 2013 previews round-up), the Oxfordshire five-piece released a brand new track to the internet. We’d call them a bunch of bastards but as always the tune is just fantastic so we feel inclined to forgive them.

They excel at gently building drama and emotion throughout their songs through the use of harmonies, layered and quickened sounds and stirring, tension fuelled lyrics; ”If you want to find your lover / I suggest you slide into the river / like the rat that you are” goes the chorus, not without menace.

They are also a little bit obsessed with water it would appear, as “The River” follows our 2012 Track of the Year, “Not Drowning But Waving”. It’s entirely appropriate though, you can feel the weight of emotion in the vocal like swimming against the current, its heavy and dangerous pulling you into the murky depths of despair under the water. It feels tough too. Physically tough, the aural equivalent of a quiet show of unified strength, of people silently standing in unison behind the one man hitherto prepared to stand up against injustice.

It’s like a movement, but then so are Spring Offensive and once you join there’s no leaving. Not in a Hotel California kind of way, you actually won’t want to.

”The River” will feature on debut Spring Offensive album, ‘Young Animal Hearts’, which was fully funded within 10 days of a very impressive Pledge Music campaign, but don’t let that stop you pledging anyway.


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2013 Preview: Listen Out For – Spring Offensive

27 Nov

This year is certainly ending on a high for our latest band to Listen Out for. As if being responsible for some of our most loved tracks of the year, including our current favourite “Not Drowning but Waving”, was not enough, Spring Offensive was last week named BBC Introducing in Oxford’s Band of the Year.

This came after the five piece had received an abundance of critical acclaim for their music, became embroiled in a mini-controversy over the use of pseudo-sign language in the video for “Worry Fill My Heart”, toured both the UK and Europe playing to packed venues and house parties as well as releasing a couple of 7” with some rather delightful handmade accoutrements.

One of the reasons for the acclamation by so many is the simple honesty in the song-writing. “Worry…,” for example, deals with the banality of being in a dead-end job and the stifling claustrophobia of the economic situation we find ourselves in. Simply and eloquently it expresses the feeling of impotence many suffer as they live hand to mouth doing a job they dislike for people they hate with no stimulation available at all. Even when they deal with (what we hope to be) a more fantastical situation in “Not Drowning…” they are still able to tell the tale with conviction and sincerity.

Musically we love their use of harmony to convey the emotion of the song, adding drama, heartbreak, guilt with simple yet so effective dexterity. The tracks are exquisitely crafted with the guitars and rhythms layered in perfect synergy with the mellifluous vocals to create songs that are both sing-a-longable and lose-yourself-inable. 2012 was a good year for Spring Offensive, 2013 should be even better.




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Read More: Watch: Spring Offensive – “Not Drowning but Waving” / Watch: Spring Offensive – “Not Worry Fill My Heart” / Watch: Spring Offensive – “Carrier”

Watch: Spring Offensive – “Not Drowning But Waving”

10 Sep

It’s been a while since we wrote anything. There have been a number of factors in that, holiday, the great Olympic and Paralympic distraction, more to do at work etc etc. There was also a not insignificant element of naval gazing on our part as well (more on that later in the week) that resulted in not a key being bashed in anger for some time. Then something happened, something woke us from our slumber and reignited the fire within and actually made us want to write once more. On Saturday morning, we fell head over heels in love with music once more, specifically with the new single from Spring Offensive.

When last we wrote about the Oxford 5-piece, they were ruminating on the mundanity, futility and disappointment of being stuck in a dead end job that didn’t pay enough. Where “Worry Fill My Heart” skipped along, pulling us towards recognition of and empathy with the theme of the song, “Not Drowning But Waving” instead creeps forward into the darkness, opening a doorway to a place within the soul that we can only hope we will never have to visit. But here, now, you can’t help but want to be taken there again and again and again.

When asked what the song is about, it is hard not to turn into Brian from Spaced discussing his paintings, but without the comedy. Anger, fear and guilt all flow like the tide that plays so central a role in the narrative of both song and video as the song rises and swells. Its waves rolling ever faster to the shore before they thunder and crash, knocking you from your feet and carrying you back out into an ocean of emotion. It is reminiscent of another Oxford band’s finest hour, recalling as it does the gradual build and dark undertone of Foals’ epic “Spanish Sahara”.

“Not Drowning But Waving”, is exquisitely crafted and considered and right now, is sounding like the best track we’ve heard all year. We love it so much that we are sharing both the track and the video with you!



“Not Drowning But Waving” is out now digitally and can be bought from iTunes. A physical release on limited edition 7″ vinyl will be on sale online and on the band’s merch stand for the duration of their forthcoming European tour (dates below), the UK leg of which will be announced shortly.

Spring Offensive European Tour
20.09 (NLD) Utrecht, Tivoli
21.09 (DEU) Hamburg, Reeperbahn Festival
22.09 (NLD) Zwolle, Hedon
24.09 (NLD) Heemskerk, Lokaal
25.09 (LUX) Luxembourg, Rockhal
26.09 (BEL) Leuven, Welcome Festival
27.09 (BEL) Kortrijk, Den Trap
28.09 (BEL) Brussels, Mme Moustache
29.09 (CH) Geneva, La Graviere
30.09 (CH) Porrentruy, Secret Show
01.10 (CH) Bern, Ono
03.10 (CH) Baden, Merkker
04.10 (CH) Basel, Hinterhof
05.10 (CH) Zurich, Exil
06.10 (CH) Wil, Gare De Lion
15.10 (ITA) Milan, Transito
16.10 (ITA) Trieste, Tetris
17.10 (ITA) TBC
18.10 (DEU) Munich, Feierwerk
19.10 (DEU) Freiburg, Raeng Teng Teng
20.10 (DEU) Stuttgart, Keller Klub
21.10 (DEU) Bedroom Disco Secret Show
22.10 (DEU) Dresden, Ostpol
23.10 (DEU) Leipzig, Theater Neues Schauspiel
25.10 (DEU) Berlin, Secret ‘Wohnzimmer’ show
26.10 (DEU) Berlin, Secret ‘Wohnzimmer’ show
27.10 (DEU) Berlin, Lido
02.11 (DEU) Berlin, Magnet
03.11 (DEU) Hamburg, Molotow
05.11 (DEU) Munster, Pension Schmidt
06.11 (DEU) Hannover, Glocksee
07.11 (DEU) Cologne, Stereo Wonderland
08.11 (DEU) Heidelberg, Haell
09.11 (DEU) Mainz, Schon Schoen

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Watch: Spring Offensive – “Worry Fill My Heart” / Watch: New Spring Offensive Video – “Carrier”