Long time readers will know that I have been a long-time supporter of The Rainband on these pages. But with that support also comes an expectation that they will keep on delivering quality music. Ask anyone who’s a fan of any band in the world and they’ll tell you that they just want their favourite band to keep delivering. So the question is, have The Rainband kept up that momentum and their own high standards?
The answer is a resounding yes.
From front to back The Shape Of Things To Come is a fantastic piece of work. The follow up to 2016’s Satellite Sunrise feels like a far more focused affair and sees the boys from Manchester produce what to my ear is the best work of their career to date.
Things kick off in fine style with lead single Gimme Love, and from this point on there’s no looking back. This was the only track that could have possibly opened this album and it just screams single. It’s a real barnstorming effort, and one that launches you perfectly into the world of The Rainband. They’ve got a brilliantly tight sound and know how to write a big chorus. If this song doesn’t get stuck in your head we should all give up and go home.
New York sees the band fall into more of a classic indie sound but there’s no let up in tempo or quality. One of my favourite tracks on the album is Is This What You Get. Frontman Martin Finnigan employs an almost call and response style to his song writing and it works with great effect as every song in it’s own way manages to worm its way into your head. It will get mentioned a lot in this review but the band’s positive and seize the day attitude is a welcome tonic to much of what surrounds us in 2018.
There’s a slight change of pace with the arrival of Out Of Sight, but what really sets this song apart from the pack is the little melodies sprinkled throughout. They just dip in and out and weave beautiful patterns across the song in tandem with a cracking bassline from Sam Wilson. Up next however is in my opinion the best track that I’ve heard from the band thus far, Realise. If I had to explain what the band are all about to someone in the street I would just play them this song. I love the opening line;
“I got a head full of ghosts, she got a head full of dreams”
I’m not even sure why I love that line so much, but it just makes me smile. The stomping chorus driven by the drums of James Cowell drives home the song’s uplifting feeling. But the real star of the show is the guitar solo from band co-founder Phil Rainey. It’s just sublime. I don’t feel like I’ve ever given Rainey enough credit previously for his playing, but he really is on top of his game here.
Last Friday I was lucky enough to be in Manchester to see the band perform alongside DMS (I’ll have more from them soon) and Realise absolutely took the roof off the Deaf Institute. Their entire set was a masterclass in how to hold an audience in the palm of your hand, but that track in particular was the highlight of a brilliant evening.
One of the things that I love about this album is how the band haven’t been afraid to tinker with their style a bit and try new things. Otherside is not really what you’d expect from the boys but it’s blues rock meets Red Hot Chilli Peppers blend of dirty riffs and rock n roll swagger is unexpectedly very impressive.
Worhol is more of that classic Rainband sound while the defiant Blink Of An Eye kicks proceedings back into top gear. I don’t know whether it was intentional, but I liked the nod to the Kaiser Chiefs I Predict A Riot with the descending bridge in the main guitar riff which runs throughout the track.
Back To You feels and sounds like Oasis in their prime. I know that sounds such a lazy comparison, with both bands being from Manchester but I feel it’s a comparison that is entirely appropriate. The rhythm section, the song structure and the guitar work all feel like they could have come from their predecessors, and as a massive Oasis fan, that’s a big complement, not a complaint.
As the album flies towards a conclusion High Than The Sun gives up another blast of that unerring positivity before Hourglass lulls you into thinking a ballad is on the way just as it skips into life. I’ve got written in my notes that the band sound like they’re really in the ‘pocket.’ They’re at the peak of their powers without a doubt.
Final track Heading South gives us that ‘ballad’ moment before it’s all said and done and it’s something that’s pulled off with ease. The guitar and trumpet solos respectively ensure that the album ends in stunning fashion.
I realise that I’ve spent the best part of 800 words waxing lyrical about this album, but I genuinely believe that it really is that good. As a reviewer I always feel that it’s part of my job to find fault with whatever I’m reviewing and not just gloss over things that don’t work but with The Shape Of Things To Come, I’m struggling to find any. It’s the perfect length, there’s a great mix of songs, ever member of the band delivers, and the production is fantastic.
I don’t say this lightly but The Shape Of Things To Come is without doubt one of the best albums that you’ll hear all year. Manchester has got a proud history when it comes to guitar bands and The Rainband are well on their way to adding their names to that very illustrious list.
The Shape Of Things To Come is out now.