Tag Archives: The River

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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Watch: A bunch of video goodies

30 Dec

TV Screen

In the last few days we have returned to our normal style of blogging after the December list-o-mania and we’ve also started to re-visit some stuff that we never got round to whilst racking our brain about our various and numerous favourites (2014 Previews, Tracks, EPs and Albums of the Year). In particular there have been a bunch of new videos that have come out in recent weeks that we’ve really enjoyed and, because we aren’t quite ready to give up listing things just yet, here are four that we particularly loved. Where we have written about the songs before, we have posted links to the original posts as well, for your added enjoyment and information. We are kind like that you see.


Spring Offensive – “The River”

Oxfordshire’s Spring Offensive really seem to love water. After the dark, stirring beauty of “Not Drowning, But Waving” last year, they have released “The River” and for the video, filled a car with water before smashing in the windscreen. Because, why not? The song is fantastic, as we discussed when reviewing it earlier this year, and the video is too. Check it out below.


Read our original post.


Paper Crows – “Anomaly”

For a song that is infused with a sense of barely contained menace, the video for Paper Crows’ “Anomaly” may not be the big budget, explosion laden spectacle that we envisioned, but it still manages to convey a sense of danger. The skittish approach gives off a vibe of malevolence and unease and while we’d have loved a bit more destruction and hellfire raining down from above, it’s still a great video.


Read our original post.


Curxes – “Avant Guarded”

Budgies and pop music. We’re not sure there are many instances of the two becoming entangled in each other’s world but for “Avant Guarded”, Curxes have brought them together in a moment of surreal magnificence.


Read our original post.


Chlöe Howl – “Rumour”

An artist we have heard mentioned a lot, and about whom many people have spoken at length, Chlöe Howl was another of those singers we had somehow managed not to actually hear in 2013. All that changed a couple of days ago though with the release of a new video for the re-released “Rumour”, a hook laden pop attack on the senses. Vibrant and bright, this promo sees Miss Howl taking on and beating a number of hard-nosed chess bastards before ultimately turning over the grand beard at the head of the table. We have no idea what this has to do with rumours, or gossip or trying to work out how to be like oneself, but it looks amazing and the song is a little pop cracker.



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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