ARTIST: STANDBY

TITLE: WE NEED MORE MOUNTAINS I

LABEL: SELF-RELEASED

RATING: 7/10

WORDS: JO COSGROVE

Every band aims for a certain sound, image, style – and it can be hard, so it’s intriguing when a band describes their sound under the labels of “spooky indie” and “gritty prog”. Welcome to the catchy and creative world of Standby.

The Connecticut rockers are a dedicated five-piece, working hard and releasing well-received music for just short of a decade. Their latest offering, ‘We Need More Mountains I‘ brings out this new, fresh sense of emotion, a mix of seemingly endless tracks and short-lived compositions, it gives what most bands cannot so easily. But what that is, is hard to pinpoint.

“complex, catchy and emotive music”

The genuine eccentricity begins from the first track, ‘Dromaius Novaehollandiae’, if the title doesn’t give it away already. It’s one of the more interesting songs solely due to it being unpredictable and therefore inconsistent. The tone changes as the tempo does, and the shifts in vocal pitch are talented but seem odd in this song. Mixing everything into a three-minute adventure in one hell of an ability, but is also an easy way to miss the mark. It’s not the best it could be, but on the flip side, it’s not the worst. The key word is: interesting. That’s what it is, if not anything else.

The consistency does change, however, and structure is restored with the track, ‘Nothing To See Here’. With a soft and gentle nature added to Standby’s unique range of styles, the anticipated “spook” begins to come into play. However, the winning element of this track is the use of vocal harmonies throughout. Frontman Brandon George blends his voice beautifully with those of his fellow bandmates throughout and it really brings out the unity and collective strength from everyone. The band are full of strict, committed people to their art and talent, and through the complex, catchy and emotive music they managed to fit onto the record, they’ve shown what they can do together. The versatility is what one must listen and live for; and as the album winds down to the end, it hammers it home. Standby works an inconsistent aesthetic.

“Creating their own labels, such as “spooky indie” means they have no actual expectations to live up to. It’s all to be tried and discovered”

‘Fetizen South’ rounds off the record almost how it was started. The speed races and slows, led by the intriguing rhythm of percussion, and yet it fits more for this thrilling conclusion. Striking loud, halting quiet, and put alongside harmonies that could possibly hypnotise the listener, it grabs hold and plays like a story, but not lyrically, melodically instead. This is a great way to end an album, especially one as abstract and challenging as ‘We Need More Mountains I‘.

What may put off certain listeners will draw in others; that’s what’s so charming about music as an art form. What Standby have made with this record is what works for them. Creating their own labels, such as “spooky indie” means they have no actual expectations to live up to. It’s all to be tried and discovered.

There are still marks missed, corners cut, and improvements that can be made for future work. But that is nothing to do with their art and their uniqueness. It’s simply working, trying, all trial and error with the band. So, let’s see how ‘We Need More Mountains II‘ plays when it comes out!

 

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