This debut album has been a long time coming. The Brighton-born Tall Ships initial releases and stunning live show have been building a tide of appreciation that has threatened to spill over and see them played on prime-time radio. Now, they release “Everything Touching”, their first full-length work.
Odd then, that it is not pop music they play, but rather an interesting mix of math and post-rock, drawing inspiration from early Foals, Explosions in the Sky and Three Trapped Tigers. Using non-standard song structures, Tall Ships really do know how to build a crescendo, which they will often do before pulling back, leaving a single instrument or vocal track playing, oozing vulnerability, stripped naked against the raw power of the sound that went before.
Thus begins “Everything Touching” – “T=0” roars an opening that introduces the key themes that Tall Ships return to consistently – there is a strain of Scientism that frames all of their lyrics, often reinforced by a math-rock fret race on the guitar. This Positivism is displayed clearly in “Ode to Ancestors”, which manages to be a love song and an ode to Darwinian science at the same time: “You are a triumph of natural selection // Every mutation leading to your perfection”.
Now this could have turned into a very dry, navel-gazing piece, but the beauty of “Everything Touching” comes from a dichotomy it presents and the apparent synthesis it provides. There is a clear Humanist streak in Tall Ships’ work. Take “Gallop”, a song about accepting aging and the absence of any clear meaning in one’s life, or in the re-recorded “Books” with its Existential terror: “I'm scared to think back // About everything that has come before me”. Thus, the dichotomy is set- positivism and humanism swirling against one another in sonic battle.The synthesis comes from what is one of Tall Ships’ greatest strengths, combining layers and looping tracks over one another to create post-rock crescendos. The dichotomies and clashes are buried under passionately built mountains of sound and emotion.
“Everything Touching” takes on a aura similar to that of Mogwai in places, but this is far from a soft, uninvolved listen. It is one that had me smiling to myself all the way through, and even punching the air at one point (if you listen to “Best Ever” you’ll know the moment I mean). Further, it is an intelligent album with much to say, and which will reward multiple listens and engagement from its audience.
The album can be found on Soundcloud here