Thing of the Day 

VESSELS release their much anticipated second album

March 23rd 2011

VESSELS release a second album of satisfying post rock epic-glitch and such, but is that good enough from one of the UK ‘s brightest hopes?

Vessels albumVESSELS – Helioscope (Cuckundoo) – Not sure how many times we’ve been back to this latest Vessels album over the last few months, only to climb back up on to the big white fence over there and leave the task of writing a review until tomorrow. You see, we rather like Vessels, they’re a band we’ve covered lots, their early demos, tracks on Organ compilations, slots on Organ bills, we kind of consider Vessels one from our side, so we really wanted this new Vessels album to live it up to all te expectation their promising early moves have heaped on their English shoulders.           
   What we have here, almost from the start of this, the second album from the Leeds-based five piece, is more of that glitch-epic post rock, that build up to a big climax then start off all quiet once more thing, all that sky-touching widescreen expansive stuff that so many have been doing for quite a few years now… That slightly glitchy thing, the 65daysof-heard-it-all-one-too-many-times. Wait, no, it's not quite that familiar - Monoform’s opening rhythms do immediately satisfy those who are anticipating something with a little bit more of a musical challenge.  And further into Helioscope, just when you think the opening hope has give way to the post-rock rule book and that it's going to be all very safe and a little predictable and oh come on, we want more than this, Vessels throw in a curveball and hit you with something that, for once, you didn’t see coming… And this time they’ve added a guest vocalist to a couple of the tracks. Stuart Warwick has a fine voice, though it has to be said this does rather take them sailing a little too close to the realms of Radiohead. The vocals do bring them closer to the idea of composition and the mainstream notion of a rock song, and yes Vessels with vocals is a brave move and the sound of a band challenging themselves  (but did it really have to be so Radiohead?)  Monoform did eventually give in to the quiet builds up to loud formula that ends in a crescendo and right now they’re sounding all Explosions In The Sky once more as we head for yet another great big end of tune climax to yet another of the album’s tunes - they are fine fine tunes, no doubt, it's just that the signposts tell us where we’re going every time…  

    Some days these fine fine Vessels tunes are more than enough – some days this is all very pleasantly enjoyable and yes, this is a good album. There are details that stop you and have you thinking yes, that’s why we think so highly of Vessels, that why we demand so much from them, they’re not just another post rock band. There are moments where Vessels do push themselves and conjure up some instrumental post-rock flavoured magic, something genuinely progressive and almost spine chilling, but then they go back to those formulae once more and another epic climax gives away to the quiet start of the next one, to more gentle glow and a touch of glitch, and those vocals just take them far far too close to Radiohead. It just really isn’t enough and as ‘nice’ and ‘pleasant’ and ‘epic’ and ‘widescreen’ as this all is, surely Vessels are capable of far far more, surely most of these musical moves are little more than post rock clichés now? And there goes another bit that really satisfies and here comes some more heavy glitch and crunch and oh I don’t know, on some days, yes, this will more than do. Mostly though, we’re left wanting more. 

   Vessels have been threatening far more than this for the last couple of years now, and no, this new album is not enough, they can’t get away with these post-rock clichés, they could and should be past this point by now shouldn’t they? You see, from most English bands this album would do, we’d be politely positive and make noises about expansive post rock and leave it at that. I mean, as the movement that is post rock goes this is really very very good, Vessels have made a more than decent post rock album, it is worthy of being a Thing of the Day here, and it probably is greedy to expect anything more isn’t it?  

   Hang on though, that closing track Spun Infinite proves they’re capable of casting it all off and delivering so so much more, Spun Infinite tells us there may just be a whole lot more next time around, this is a good album, this will do for now, but somewhere there’s a truly great Vessels album lurking, waiting to be made.        

Helioscope came out on March 21st 

--Front Page--