We Were Frontiers - Giveth Taketh Away | Album Review | By Volume

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We Were Frontiers

Giveth Taketh Away

Sigh no more; rejoice, for folk-pop is saved.

Comments (0)
Author: on July 11, 2013
7.8
I Am Not a Musician
August 5, 2013

We Were Frontiers are the reason I hate Mumford and Sons. They do with folk-pop what should be done with folk-pop, building dynamic and heartfelt songs that rise and fall with unpredictable crashes scattered throughout. Their songwriting is so distanced from the linear crescendo-on-sat-nav trajectory, exploding and dying within seconds in little Arcade Fire-esque bursts of trumpets or bagpipes or whatever-next. But however fractured, Giveth Taketh Away never feels disjointed, its tracks climaxing with energy bordering on abandon – youthful, for sure, but with little polish in its refinement.

So “Glorious Days”‘ refrain of “Isn’t it the most glorious of days?” stumbles every time but the last few. The momentum and spirit dragged to the surface through gang vocals, fleshed choruses and a beautiful bridge come together sublimely, off the back of a just-wired guitar and sprinting head first into a jubilant, already-nostalgic summer. “Tear out the pages of all your favourite books / Did you hate the last century that much?” is one of those hooks that builds in meaning with every iteration, piling the tension in a clenched, inquisitive fist until it gets its final release.

“Madness Of July” throws itself to gang vocals and proves in the process the strength and depth of Giveth Taketh Away‘s mixing, an earthy, Decemberists-style romp that lets go of most of the weight found elsewhere, opting for a raucous chorus. The bluegrass and country hints prominent throughout are let loose here, but just as elegantly, even within relative chaos. The dipping bass and shifting drums give a foundation to harmonies on harmonies of “Ba ba ba ba ba da da” – or something like that – and it’s clear that We Were Frontiers are capable of executing beautifully controlled demolitions of their own songs as “Madness Of July” fades out.

If Giveth Taketh Away has a weakness, it’s its brevity. I mean that not as a throwaway compliment, but as an implication that the duration of a full record would give We Were Frontiers the chance to ebb and flow in greater numbers of beautiful ways than they find the room to demonstrate here. But what is present is gorgeously gritty, frequently thrilling and rooted in some very, very strong writing. They have fantastically rough edges to their aesthetic that sound nothing like gimmicks, but it’s the hooks that will provide the gravity. It’s just what folk-pop should aspire to: a twisting, gripping, but ultimately hummable adventure.

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