Friday, 30 November 2012

REVIEW: Port Erin - Wheel Inside A Wheel - new album

Port Erin are a three piece band from the English county of Wiltshire, and lately they've been releasing some rather fine sounds indeed. Released late last year and recorded at Real World with producer Marco Migliari, 'Wheel Inside A Wheel' is their second full length, and features a number of songs that confirm them as an outfit to look out for.

The opening burst of colour that is 'Smack Bang In The Middle' showcases their intricate guitar lines, intelligent songwriting and instinctive arrangements. But as well as the recognisable shades of early Elbow, Doves and Jeff Buckley, the carefully picked notes and flourishing melodies are boosted by the jazz-funk punch of the rhythm section.

With its irresistible guitar hook, plaintive vocal and elegant mystery, 'Hold On' is one of two standout tracks, along with the brooding, beautiful 'Let It Go (The Walls)'. Enhanced by smokey swirls of psychedelica, the addition of some calming violin and dub percussion in the middle also add some of the flavours that make the group's sound unique. Strong material like this suggests they could win a huge following if they're heard by the right people.

The epic guitar avalanche of 'Due Dues' and the Buckley-esque 'In My Way' play to their strengths, providing further reasons to add this record to your collection. Those violins make another welcome appearance on 'Some Time Later', which also has touches of folk and reggae, not things that should usually go together, yet these musicians have a way of making these contrasting styles work well within the core sound they've established.

Admittedly a bit of a dip follows, as 'Taming The Thought Of The Tiger' snoozes a bit too much to make any kind of an impact, and 'Scilly Dazed On The Paradise Bus' goes too far down the funk-jazz route and ends up getting lost, dragging the LP off course in the process. But it's only a brief blip. Rounding off the album wonderfully, 'The Big F' brings forward horns that provide a jazzy embellishment to the gliding ambience and warm vocals.

Listen to their (now very rare) debut 'Meet Me On The Common' for an idea of how they've since progressed, adding their own touch to their varied influences to create the basis of their newer material. This second LP is a step forward for this hugely promising group. 7.5

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