Tag Archives: Spring Offensive

2014 Albums & EPs of the Year: 2

1 Jan

2014 Albums and EPs 2

#2 Spring Offensive – Young Animal Hearts

The arrival of Spring Offensive’s debut album, Young Animal Hearts was the cause of much celebration here at Alphabet Bands as one of our favourite bands around was finally releasing a full-length record. Sadly, while this much awaited and fantastic album came early in the year, 2014 ended without Spring Offensive in the ranks of active bands. Thankfully they were able to leave us with a brilliant album woven with complex emotional narratives and evocative 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.

We could easily go through every track and effuse greatly on why each is magnificent in its own right 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 and creators of our second favourite album of 2014.


2014 Tracks Of The Year: #5 – 1

16 Dec

Tracks of 2014 - 5-1

Here we are then, our favourite five tracks from 2014. We only had a couple of rules when putting this list together and if you need reminding of them, you’re in luck as here they are. We have purposefully used quite a loose definition of ‘tracks’. We are not looking at singles only but tracks that were released in one capacity or another over the last 12 months. The only other arbitrary rule we have implemented is, one song per artist.

Before we reveal the top five, here’s a quick link-a-thon to the other Tracks of the Year posts and the previous 20 of our favourite songs of 2014, should you have missed any of them or just fancy a reminder.

Part One – Tracks #25 – 21
Part Two – Tracks #20 – 16
Part Three – Tracks #15 – 11
Part four – Tracks #10 – 6

Now then, here we go with our Top 5 favourite tracks of 2014. Enjoy.


#5 The Night VI – “Heroine”

The Night VI is another band that had a very good year that culminated with the release of an extremely high quality EP and a case could easily be made for any of its tracks to feature on a best of list. Our favourite though, the one we are addicted to, is “Heroine”. It’s been subject to a couple of stunning remixes (particularly this remarkably cinematic and bold rework from Joseph Reuben) but it is the original that has stayed with us, that has slipped into our consciousness and often slipped out of our mouth as we sing and hum it to ourselves without realising. Sophie-Rose Harper’s vocals are just a dream as the track intoxicates with its melty melody and silken synths. We remain hooked.



#4 Yumi Zouma – “Riqulme”

We wrote recently about our love for Yumi Zouma so their appearance here should be no surprise. Given said love, choosing a favourite of their tracks was quite difficult but we’ve plumped for the sublime “Riquelme”.

The soft, elegant vibe of Yumi Zouma is a thing of beauty and here the subtle 80s nods they employ include a hint of Wendy and Lisa nuanced Gwen Stefani. “Riquelme” is a poignant soft focus look at relationships, all low lighting, candles and glasses of wine, tears and heartbreak. Listening to it is like drifting along on a deserted river, shoes off, a hat covering your eyes from the glorious sunshine and toes dipped in the water making barely a ripple as you pass by. Wildlife watches, undisturbed as you float calmly across gorgeous melodies and a cool caressing breeze of vocals brushes your face.



#3 Lauren Aquilina – “Forest Fires”

We’ve often spoken about the personal nature of music and how it affects each of us differently, how little things in a song can mean so much to one listener yet completely pass others by. “Forest Fires” by Lauren Aquilina was a track just like that. It might not have meant anything to many, but to us it remains a heavenly and heavily emotive piano ballad that hit us like a sledgehammer to the soul.

Simple, elegant and so very poignant, “Forest Fires” is a tale for the silent masses that suffer day in, day out, fighting a battle with our own psyche that we can never win. For each of us who think so little of ourselves that we are convinced the world thinks even less, yet paradoxically can only ever believe that the pain or anguish of a loved one is our fault.

It’s like a vast empty room, bathed in darkness and that Lauren’s voice soars and cracks in equal measure, heavy with emotion and torment like a single beam of light, broken by dust and splinters of wood in the roof, shining down on a lonely figure. It’s powerful and heart-wrenching and even now, having played it countless times, we still get goosebumps as she cries out “I don’t blame you” as the song reaches its destination and then, as Lauren sings the faint, brittle coda of ”who would ever want to be around me?”, our heart breaks just a little bit more.



#2 Spring Offensive – “Hengelo”

We’re massive fans of Spring Offensive (they placed first on our 2012 Tracks of the Year list for example) so 2014 was one of wonderful highs and depressing lows for us regarding Oxfordshire’s finest. They finally released their debut album Young Animal Hearts (which was completely fantastic) but also announced the cessation of their existence as a band. At the start of the year they have given, and then by the end they had taken away. Still, at least they left us with a brilliant collection of songs, perhaps our favourite of which is “Hengelo”.

With its unusual but intriguing subject matter, Spring Offensive did what they do best and looked beyond the narrative and into the emotion and motivation, for the humanity within. Here they deal in the mundane moments of life that can accumulate into the extraordinary; the feelings we experience everyday and likely don’t notice until it is too late. They seek and see the daily stresses of life and the unseen breaking points inside us all, reach in and mould them into songs that glide and rise, that send shivers down your spine as you recognise the reality within them but that raise you up on their deft arrangements and sublime melodies and remarkably catchy tunes.



#1 Vérité – “Weekend”

Another year, another favourite track and here today, there’s another genre represented by the winner. When Verité popped on the scene earlier this year it was immediately obvious that another sensational new pop artist had just been discovered and now, months later and with “Weekend” still played at least once a day, we feel even more confident that it is only a matter of when the chart bothering will begin for her.

Why do we love “Weekend” so? Simple reasons really, it is freakish just how infectious it is, how it compels movement, no matter how small, as you listen; it behoves a boogie. The lyrics are suitably catchy with a deliciously sing-a-long chorus and her vocals are just perfect for the dance-pop realm she inhabits. It is a pop masterpiece and one we cannot help but adore and enjoy time and time again.


Spring Offensive – “Bodylifting” (video)

1 Apr

Spring Offensive - Bodylifting

Regular readers will know how much we adore Oxford’s Spring Offensive, even more so now they’ve released their debut album, Young Animal Hearts, which is already one of our favourites (and most played) of the year. As well as being expert craftsmen in the ways of eloquent and emotive pop music, they also do a damn fine line in videos, so we always get excited when they announce a new one is on the way, and we’ve not been let down yet.

The latest in their long streak of quality promos comes in the form of “Bodylifting”. It’s a quintessentially Spring Offensive tune full of subtle drama and emotion and one that lends itself surprisingly well to the best training montage since Rocky IV. Directed by the band themselves, it is full of dry and not so dry humour, charm and everything that makes Spring Offensive so damn enjoyable and fantastic.

Bro, do you even lift?

’Young Animal Hearts’ is out now and is available to order here.


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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 – “Hengelo”

16 Jan

Spring Offensive - Hengelo

It stands to reason that, while others find inspiration in love, life and their immediate surroundings, those deft storytellers and purveyors of subtle, dark sentiments, Spring Offensive, should look elsewhere. And elsewhere it is indeed, to “Hengelo”, a Dutch town and home of the infamous “Forest Boy” Robin van Helsum, who ran away to Berlin and claimed he had lived in the forest for years with his now dead father.

Not exactly top of the list of song subject material we’re sure you’ll agree. Not that it matters for Spring Offensive have reached a level now where they could probably be handed a shopping list and weave it into a narrative heavy with emotion and set to nuanced, stirring melodies. We’ve said it before and no doubt will say it again, many times, they excel at building drama and a sense of profundity into each of their songs.

In “Hengelo” they have taken the tale of an errant hoaxer and delved into his motives rather than the fabrications he concocted; looking, as they do so well, for the humanity within. They deal in the mundane moments of life that can accumulate into the extraordinary; the feelings we experience everyday and likely don’t notice until it is too late. They seek and see the daily stresses of life and the unseen breaking points inside us all, reach in and mould them into songs that glide and rise, that send shivers down your spine as you recognise the reality within them but that raise you up on their deft arrangements and sublime melodies.

It is another wonderful track from a supremely talented band.

”Hengelo” is taken from Spring Offensive’s debut album ‘Young Animal Hearts’, due for release on 10 March.


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