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For ‘Albatross’ at least, Thirsty sticks to a clearly definable, signature formula.

Music Review: Thirsty – ‘Albatross’

Thirsty 'Albatross'London, England-based band Thirsty has set November 2016 as the release month for its second album, Albatross. The 11 indie and grunge rock tracks each run at around the three-minute mark, making for a short and sweet half hour listening experience.

It only takes one listen to distinguish what is, on this album at least, the band’s signature sound: a slow tempo, a simple but intense melody, a steady and flirtatious electric guitar, discrete but key drumming, and lead singer Guy Bailey’s gravelly vocals. Bailey, along with Simon Hanson (drums), Chris Johnstone (bass, keyboards), and Lynne Jackaman (backing vocals), stick to a specific formula with some twists and variations making their way throughout the recording.

Two songs exemplify Thirsty’s basic formula pretty well, the title track and “Chaos.” The slightly psychedelic “Albatross” borders on slightly trippy. It brings to mind images of a frowning man singing his bitterness into the dark night while the smoke of his cigarette twirls almost lovingly around him. The mellow feeling it evokes is slightly jarred with the steady twang of the electric guitar that doesn’t allow listeners to fully relax, as if keeping them on their toes. “Chaos” is anything but chaotic and comes off as more cheerful, almost tongue-in-cheek.

Variations to their main sound include the spoken word-like vocals in “Va Banque” and the violin in “Shore of Light” which adds an extra layer of emotion—and therefore intensity—to the song. The blues-tinged “Orlando” includes an almost dejected-sounding harmonica and is mellow to the point of encouraging laziness while retaining a restrained attitude and a dollop of sultriness. The keyboard in “Say It Ain’t So Joe” carries an almost cheerful melody contrasting with some dark lyrics. A violin adds a layer of darkness to the track which is unusual in itself, as violins usually bring light and hope. Similarly, the vocals have a hissing edge to them, making for an overall creepy atmosphere.

The keyboard also leads the slow and almost throbbing soul-influenced “Patriotic Little Trash”, in which the vocals are almost hesitant at times. In “Beat of Her Heart”, female backing vocals shadow Bailey almost the entire way through. It is a little more cheerful than the other numbers in the set. The melody in “Black Hole” is led by a playful, yet restrained piano which remains in the background, whereas in “Parliament of Fools”, the piano, again playful, comes to the forefront. While the number is tinged with funk flavour, the vocals are less throaty and more nasally.

The slow and soulful “Cosmic Aphrodite” flips the singing duties a bit, with Bailey in a supporting rather than primary lead vocal role. Instead of the usual gravelly ones, breathy and borderline seductive vocals lead the way. Both sound at times like they could be high.

This collection is the type that listeners will either love or hate in its entirety. Tracks are available for streaming on YouTube. More information about the band, its music, and upcoming live appearances is available on both their official website and on their Facebook page.

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