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Sunday 26 March 2017

Brighton's Tall Ships Battled Through Choppy Waters Of Strife & Struggle To Produce New Album

Brighton's Tall Ships will soon unleash new single Petrichor, taken from their forthcoming album Impressions.
mage (c) Morgan Sinclair

The album  is the result of a testing birthing process that cemented the band's resolution to go their own way and be the captains of their own destiny.

Instead of going through the usual motions, the group - comprised of frontman Ric Phethean, bassist Matt Parker, drummer Jamie Bush and keyboardist Jamie Field - opted to go it alone, taking command of every element of their art. 

Retreating to Field's home on the edge of Dartmoor, they adopted a similarly DIY recording process to that which birthed Everything Touching years earlier:

"We recorded and engineered it all. The DIY nature of it is one of necessity, not aesthetic," says Field. 

What emerged speaks for itself. Impressions bristles with a fresh intensity: it's a set that feels constantly on a knife edge of unpredictability, capable within a single song of being both disconcertingly tender and universal - easily the most ambitious and anthemic music the band has ever written.

Most notably Petrichor, which serves as one of new album Impressions' greatest peaks, a hands-raised-aloft anthem preaching openness and dialogue - valuable commodities in the 2017 we've seen so far. 

Speaking of the track, frontman Ric Phethean says: 

"It started as a collection of one-liners trying to distil the sense of detachment I was feeling at the time of writing. 

"Whilst working on the song, I came across the word petrichor, which describes the scent you get after a downpour during a long dry spell. 

"This felt like a pretty apt word to describe the song and that feeling of relief that comes with externalising and talking about all the problems we carry around within us."  

Speaking of the album's titling, Tall Ships frontman Ric Phethean stumbles upon what's, all-in-all, a pretty concise summary of the band's recent history. He calls the album's titular impressions, 

"The indentations that are left in us from the pressure and the knocks we inevitably receive while being alive. 

"Life can be an incredibly difficult thing at times and the tragic events, joyous events and tender moments all leave their marks upon us."

True to this, "It all just crumbled away for a little while," says Phethean, speaking of the period following their acclaimed debut album, 2012's Everything Touching. 

That period saw them championed by both the BBC and NME, selling out shows across the UK (including London"s Scala), and headlining the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading & Leeds Festivals. 

After five years of hard graft building towards the album - enjoying industry plaudits and ever-growing audiences - they found themselves with no management and no record label, forced to confront the fact it all could've been a false start. 

A lesser band would have packed it in and moved on; that band would not be Tall Ships. 

"We were emotionally, physically and financially spent. We needed a break for a while to pay off debts we"d accumulated, recover from health issues and simply do our own thing," Phethean continues.

Looking back on the new album's difficult conceptionImpressions feels a particularly befitting title - Parker views it all as being strangely necessary to what this record would become; 

"If someone had just come to us and given us the money to make a second album right away, it would've been completely different. 

"It's a product of everything that"s happened over the past four years." 

Listening to it now, what shines through is just how truthful a document of strife and struggle it is, not just for four young British musicians, but for a whole generation facing greater uncertainty and bigger decisions than in decades.

Tall Ships play an instore show at  Brighton's Resident Records on 31st March 2017. They then return to the city to play at The Haunt on 6th May. Tickets for both shows are on-sale now from usual agents - New album Impressions is out on 31st March - Listen to new single Petrichor here. 

by: Mike Cobley


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