Released at the end of 2010, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Tigers That Talked have missed a golden opportunity to market The Merchant as 2011’s first big album. But as soon as you start listening to this, the band’s full-length debut, it’s not long before you understand why they were so eager to share it.
Only a few minutes in and you’ll be overcome by the uplifting ’23 Fears’ and delightful ‘Artificial Clouds’; the album’s catchiest and most accessible moments by far. Surely destined for much success, their beautifully haunting sound at times recalls early Guillemots.
‘Holy Saturday, Gloomy Sunday’ and ‘Waves’ both shine mid-album, with violinist Glenna Larsen’s superb orchestration perfectly complimenting Jamie Williams’ fragile vocals. Elsewhere, more urgent, percussive-driven tracks such as ‘And I’m Caring’ and ‘Black Heart, Blue Eyes’ offer up shades of Arcade Fire; the latter feeling like a lost track from the Canadians’ debut album Funeral.
However this album’s biggest achievement is in its pacing. Where lesser bands with such a bold sound have all too often made the mistake of becoming too repetitive and samey, The Merchant constantly switches from soaring highs to sobering melancholy. The result is an album that flows seamlessly; with each track less of an individual song, but more of a smaller part a collective whole. Equally exhausting and exhilarating, it will have you going back for more, over and over again.
Without even the subtlest hint of pretension creeping in, Tigers That Talked have delivered what can only be described as an absolutely stunning debut; one that shows ambition, innovation and maturity. A shoe-in for a 2011 Mercury Prize Nomination? You heard it here first.
Watch 23 Fears