The Barnum Meserve – self titled review

TBMCOVERTo say Nottingham epic rock outfit The Barnum Meserve formed way back in 2007, the self titled debut album has been a long time coming. After refining their sound and picking up a name for themselves through their live shows, their first two EPs went on to receive extensive underground acclaim. After two years of moulding their first full length offering to sound just so, the trio are set to release The Barnum Meserve on April 6th, via 34D records, with their next release already in the pipeline.

The band cite themselves with all manner of influences, a key feature being the sweeping cinematic slant on their work, making the record all the more epic. From the underlying piano in opening War Games to the percussion that builds up Open Up Your Eyes, there’s a level of awe in the music that’s usually only reserved for sublime natural wonders. Leon Wiley’s vocals match to meet this level of power, and more than a hint of Muse creeps into the album.

Power is compromised with volume, and the lighter opening of Colours is the perfect introduction to the emotive, shouted chorus that’s bound to touch a live audience – this is the sort of track you’d watch on the TV coverage of Reading and Leeds and wish you were there to see. Knocking you a step back, the straining vocals contrast the hollow and sharp percussion of Don’t Be Afraid, showing the years they’ve been refining their sound have paid off with the confidence in their music to make it bold and courageous.

The thirteen tracks continue in the pattern of distinct vocals supported by ground shaking instrumental, with the backdrop of music powerful enough to move anyone. Lighter moments are touched on in Without Numbers, whilst Leon’s vocal keep the track grounded and secure, giving way to a piano solo that rapidly becomes the signature touch to the album.

At nearly six minutes, closing Tides is by far the most epic off the record, opening with the subtlest piano, rising to choppy climaxes and subduing to synthesised, minimalistic moments, winding down the album with lullaby tune, playing fantastically with the atmospheric sound they’ve such control over.

It does rather shock you that only three people can create something so intense and powerful, and that for a debut full length, it could be such a strong offering. These thirteen tracks would be perfectly apt for film soundtracks, and I more than half expect to see them band working on one in the future.