Tag Archives: speak

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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Free Download: Spring Offensive – “Speak”

17 Jun

Spring Offensive - Speak

Returning with new single (which is currently available as a free download, details on how to get it below) “Speak”, Oxford’s Spring Offensive are staking a claim to have their name acknowledged as a kite mark, so synonymous is it now with quality.

After the atmospheric melancholy of last year’s “Worry Fill My Heart” and “Drowning, Not Waving”, “Speak” more closely follows the aural theme of previous track “No Assets” with its poppier, more lively and upbeat feel. Again though the subject matter is not the brightest, dealing at is does with a guy whose emotional muteness will threaten his relationship. Our protagonist seems to be the kind of guy who would watch silently as happiness walks away rather than stand up and try to fight for it.

The guys are a dab hand at producing high quality and innovative visual accompaniments for their tracks but this time they have gone for a straight performance video. It’s a pleasant change to see them unencumbered by choreography or set pieces, besides; the track conjures enough images on its own.

For us it is a fairly straight correlation between lyrics and visuals. So we begin with a couple laughing and joking then alternating scenes of the protagonist walking alone in the countryside, hands in pockets pushing against the wind and looking out across the fields, with scenes of the couple fighting. Well, not so much fighting as the loved one becoming more and more vexed and animated by our man’s silence, until it all gets too much and they walk out. All this would be interspersed with some performance shots of the band.

At least, that is what is in our head when we hear it.

“Speak” is available as a free download for a limited time; to get yours just head here and tap in your email address.


Stalk Spring Offensive: Facebook / Twitter / Website

Read More: 2013 Preview: Listen Out For – Spring Offensive / 2012 Tracks of the Year / Watch: Spring Offensive – “Not Drowning but Waving”