Review: Dry the River – ‘Shallow Bed’

Originally published for IAreYeti.

Read any article about East-London five-piece, Dry the River, and a comparison to Mumford & Sons will, undoubtedly, appear somewhere; the only problem with this is that the two aren’t actually that similar. Yes, they may tend to follow the same format in their songs – by that, I mean, they start slow and gradually build towards a big ending – but there’s a lot more depth to Dry the River.

Peter Liddle’s falsetto tones steer the album through its heavy folk-rock tracks but also through its slower ballads, which allow him to show off his lyrical abilities more clearly. Since appearing on the BBC’s Sound of 2012 list, a lot of hype has surrounded the band but with the hype also comes questions over whether they can live up to the hype. Their debut album, ‘Shallow Bed’ proves that Dry the River are not your typical ‘hype band’.

‘New Ceremony’ is a perfect example of the Mumford-esque song structure the band seems fond of, but compared to those of the former, Liddle’s lyrics actually make some sense. Although difficult to decipher, at times, behind his belting vocals are some pretty great lyrics: “We’re wise beyond our years / But we’re good at bad ideas, my love”.

‘The Chambers and the Valves’ is probably the album’s stand-out track, as the best vocally, musically and production-wise, where the band completely come together. The track’s chorus is so catchy you won’t be able to get it out of your head for a good while; similar to that of ‘No Rest’, in which Liddle’s wail of “I loved you in the best way possible” rings right through you.

At times, the vocals and, subsequently, the lyrics can be overridden by the heaviness of the production, which is a shame considering how good Liddle’s lyrics are. However, calmer tracks like ‘Demons’ and ‘Bible Belt’ save the album from descending into a bit of a headache and allow some breathing space in between all the drum-pounding and guitar-thrashing.

For a debut album, ‘Shallow Bed’ shows some serious promise for Dry the River – packed full of powerful and emotive songs to capture your attention and leave you intrigued to hear what the band do next.

Overall Rating: 3/5


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