Taken from their imminent debut album _Wilderness Is Paradise Now, 'Burning Benches' is, for the most part, middle-of-the-road indie. As well as label-mates Coldplay, the obvious choice of comparison, its sound shares common ground with the likes of Keane and Athlete. A single, soft piano part opens the song, over the top of which frontman Matthew Greener eerily sings his messages of friendship, in the same way that man with a knife tells you he's your friend, and if you do what he says it's going to be OK. _"Let us make amends / We’re not overly good friends / But it's not heaven without you" is the vaguely obsessive opening line, before Greener sings the same line an octave higher, now sounding like a strangled James Walsh of indie yawnmeisters Starsailor. So far, so Indie By Numbers, yet when the song finally kicks in it’s this same strangulated tone that sets 'Burning Benches' apart from the bunch. Whereas the likes of Keane have a vocal style which suggests they’d rather be viewing the Planning Applications down their local council office than actually making music, in no danger of breaking a sweat in the process, Greener’s voice breaks up with grit and determination where the tempo doubles and the lines such as "I’m not burning benches / Cos the ash would make me choke" take on a touch of desperation.
Sadly, '...Benches lacks variety. Whilst it does depart from the standard, formulaic song structure – in fact, on first listen it doesn’t appear to have much of a structure at all, no chorus to speak of, making it a brave and unusual choice for a single – the first two and a half minutes of the song have the same identical, slow four-chord pattern over and over, with only the introduction of the rest of the band after about a minute to distract you from how relentlessly repetitive it actually is. Even after it kicks in, with just a minute remaining it’s too little, too late.
'Burning Benches' isn’t a bad effort, but it lacks ideas, or indeed anything to properly set it apart from their contemporaries in an already overcrowded commercial indie market. Hopefully the forthcoming album won’t suffer from the same symptoms.
6ben marwood's Score