ALBUM REVIEW: Black Submarine ‘New Shores’

Black Submarine are a band comprised of old heads with new sensibilities.  Band members have previously been part of The Verve (Nick McCabe on guitar and Simon Jones on bass) and Portishead (Michele ‘Mig’ Schillace on drums), along with their own solo and session projects (Amelia Tucker vocals and Davide Rossi, vocals and violin) – ‘veteran agents at their heigh of their powers’ apparently.  So what would this magnum opus sound like…

Black Submarine’s debut album is a work of tight production and knowing musicianship.  This is a band with ideas, and they know how to make them sound good.

Kicking off the album is the doom laden tones of ‘Black Submarine’; it’s an industrial romp occupying the darkest hours of the day, finding yourself wondering dimly lit streets full of determination and devilish thoughts.  Hints of Bjork’s Army of Me creep in with machine-like tones and steely brows.

Away from doom, the band have beautifully synergised heavy pounding bass with distorted guitars and the euphoric soprano of singer Amelia Tucker, see ‘Heart First’ for a gem example.  Unlike the many female singers we come across, she doesn’t have to warble uncontrollably or quiver in an estuary accent to make a point.  Her voice is devine and speaks for itself, bringing a lucid sunrise element to proceedings, particularly on ‘Move Me A Mountain’, which sounds practically naked comparative to the previous tracks.

As the band features two ex-Verve members, a band famous ‘aggressive walking’, unsurprisingly there are pumping undertones and laddish attitude.  However not in the way we would imagine.  Think of the rhythm section as a beating heart, sumptuously undulating emotion through the veins of the guitars and electronica, thus making Davide Rossi’s vocals sound more like a man on the vulnerable yet determined edge of a comedown, as opposed to one that will kick your head in.  ‘Is This All We Feel’ is the song I can imagine inflicting sing-a-long’s and enthusiastic lighter grabbing, proving that heavy/doomy and industrial don’t have to be cold and distant.

The whole thing is like a soundtrack to times of the day, locations, dare I say emotions, expressed through aural delights that by the third play of the album were really starting to send shivers down my spine.  The more you listen to ‘New Shores’ the more it gently unfolds, nuances in the soundscape start to reveal themselves until they’re the only things you can hear.  When I finally reached ‘Everything That Happens To…’, I was pretty much in the same place I found myself the time I got stoned and listened to S’hine On You Crazy Diamond’, but yet my system was clean.  It’s an album that can be easily enjoyed as a collection of songs, but wouldn’t feel out of place in an indie movie.  I’ll stop myself because I’m getting a bit excited now, but you have to hear it to feel it, you know?  I hope you do…

At the height of their powers?  Absolutely.  If they only make one album they can be proud this was it.  An aural treat.

Kate Tittley

Kate Tittley

When not making cocktails for Manchester's finest, Le Titts is most likely to be found the other side of the bar in a cloud of smoke and wine musing loudly over her fantasy band line up, love of the album format and why nothing is better than The Stone Roses. And then spilling the wine...Loving the ride with GigSlutz.
Kate Tittley

Latest posts by Kate Tittley (see all)