Keston Cobblers’ Club are one of those bands that should already be enormous but curmudgeonly types have been keeping them a secret – ‘Wildfire’ should explode that and bring the band to where they deserve to be.
Musically, they are based in folk but the music has powerful drums and synths alongside the tuba and those wonderful harmonies (described by the band as “A blanket of voices”).
The album is full of great anthems and lightness but they touch on the dark side with a number like ‘Sober’ which Matt describes as “the darkest song I’ve ever written” – it doesn’t stop them putting up a fabulous duet between Matt & Julia Lowe that is truly chilling.
Matt has a unique voice, halting and the mix brings him to the fore, carrying the melody and using the rest of the band, sometimes, as a massed rhythm section. The duets with his sister seem to have very different voices taking their own parts but when they come together the vocal friction is thrilling and original. When the voices are playing a round – as on ‘Contrails’ you find yourself leaping from voice to voice, enjoying a taste here and another nibble there.
‘Wildfire’ itself is explosive, starting with just voices and drums until a synth starts skittering around the background; anthemic, powerful and with a great chorus – it should make a great single and I can see it as a live favourite. ‘Half Full’ is poignant and pretty, sad but lovely while ‘Of Alarms’ is a poppy folk tune with Julia taking the lead vocal. Strangely, there is an ‘80’s feel to much of the music – especially in the percussion – but the right part,
The band stand and fall on Matt and Julia’s songwriting and unique voices – which is not to say that the rest are not superb musicians too, especially Bethany on tuba – but the songs are so strong and the vocals so unique that the rest feeds those things.
Keston Cobbler’ Club time has come and I will be listening to this album for ages to come – simply gorgeous.