This debut from Brighton’s Orchards follows on from 2018’s long EP Lovers/Losers and picks up the baton from the previous release within the opening seconds. Opener ‘Sincerely Overwhelmed’ has the jauntiest of guitar lines and a typically infectious chorus. As guitars and rhythms playfully switch between time signatures and tones, it takes a very strong vocal to take the focus. Fortunately, one of the many factors that make Orchards so individual is their powerful vocal range.
As this release moves from track to track, it is clear that there are both musical and lyrical themes that stitch an album that is essentially 11 potential singles together into a release that flows with a real sense of purpose.
Musically, this is a release that allows every member to flex; the rumbling bassline on ‘Sooner’ creates a vintage sound which – when paired with plucked guitars and distant drums – creates the perfect atmosphere for a vocal that combines sweetness with the occasional bitter snarl. This honest emotion and complex musicianship is confirmation that Orchards are a band that are excellent at both songwriting and composition.
This is a release that is almost timeless, with nods towards an entire history of alternative music. Lyrically, there are nods towards great songwriters from the honest storytelling of Lou Reed or Brody Dalle, the cutting emotive humour of Owen or Fresh, and the ability to plant a listener right into a set of the emotion of Shoes And Socks Off or Erica Freas.
Every song on this LP tells a tale of modern life, but Orchards have not developed a sense of crushing melancholy like most honest bands. Instead, there are positive desires for self-improvement or a sense of understanding for the behaviour of others. This level of understanding shows this is a band with maturity beyond their years. ‘Social Sobriety’ is a prime example; the empathy within this spoken-word piece is refreshing and offers a breather amongst an album of infectious hits.
The musical nods are almost countless; with such complexity comes tiny similarities to a vast range of genres and timeframes. The guitars have a unique quality that sits somewhere between world music, pop, and math rock; the basslines are used like another guitar, and the drumbeats distort and shift to drive the pace of songs in a heartbeat.
The way these instruments interact together creates soundscapes that fill a room with warmth in the same way Vampire Weekend or Fools Gold pushed towards afro-beats, but in this case, the complexity of math rock makes this seem far more like the sunshine of a two-day British summer.
The creative rhythms and time signatures nod towards Tall Ships, Blakfish, and Hot Club De Paris with a delivery that has more in common with festival headliners like Foals or the dreamy pop of Best Coast or Kississippi. With songs like ‘Luv U 2’, it feels like Orchards are also destined for festival main stages.
This is a band who have quietly generated a huge buzz but retained a DIY ethic, which has allowed them the rare treat of being respected for their hard work throughout their rise – and long may this continue. This is an album that will push Orchards further, and I can’t wait to see how these songs fit into what is already a pretty flawless live set.
Lovecore is out tomorrow, March 13th. Pre-order and pre-save here.