Easter "Innocence Man"
What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is the debut album by Manchester four piece Easter - and it's a shock. Sure, you pretty much expect a band's first album to be full of music that they've lived with and nurtured and polished up (or maybe bashed around) until they are happy with it. Even given that, though, Easter have produced a pretty remarkable feat with "Innocence Man".
Its six tracks, some stretching out over six or even eight minutes, are both expansive and intense. There is a delicate balancing act of discordant riffs against powerhouse drumming and intimate, articulate and half hidden singing - reminiscent of, but distinct from, The National. The riffage is simpler than The National’s and Easter are noise alchemists shaping discord and painful feedback into sound sculptures of disconnection and confusion. For the most part it sounds suitably splendid.
This shaping of the music is an important element to Easter's sound. On "Pages" we're all done with lyrics - half addressed to an unattainable girl, half to the listener’s expectations, within 90 seconds - the remainder of the song is an extended instrumental somewhat in a Crazy Horse vein. However it would be wrong to think that Easter are just metal bashing noise merchants though. There's insistent melody and martial drumming on "Damp Patch" - the soundtrack to a really bad night out, and there's rare beauty on "Begin Again" which emerges from a fuzzed up guitar feedback intro' to a gentle echoey spacey gorgeous confusion. For a moment you could mistake Thomas Long for Matt Berninger , and Julie Campbell’s cello and vocals just reinforce that feeling. It's not a poor pastiche of The National though, it's vital in its own self – it’s just a perfect sound.
There's not a weak song on the album - even epic eight minute closer "Holy Island" escapes incipient freeform jazziness in an extended middle section by having a repeated melodic guitar line pick up the stiches until it finally vanishes as the rest of the band drift off into a North Sea fog. There's a real sense of both space and place – and it’s all round pleasing.