A full three years on since their fourth album ‘Screaming is Something’, Manchester’s The Travelling Band are back and this time they are not messing about. Album opener ‘Passing Ships’ gives us a glimpse into what they’ve been doing (‘reliving scenes from Harold and Maude, faking gruesome deaths and defending Catholic priests’ apparently) whilst setting the instrumental template for what we can expect from the album: sweetly pitched guitar lines, Belle & Sebastian-y drums and earnest, pacey piano accompanied by the kinds of vocals familiar to fans of bands like Ben & Jason or Turin Brakes. Although they describe themselves as ‘alternative folk’, the band are more pop in the tradition of Prefab Sprout or The Chills. Which is no bad thing in our book.
The Big Defreeze is the kind of album you can imagine fey young indie boys and girls playing loudly as they drive out into the country for a Sunday afternoon picnic. There are songs here (’25 Hours’, we’re looking at you) that would be number one for fifteen weeks in an ideal world. You get the sense that the band have spent the time between albums wondering whether to call it a day or not – and having decided, no, we’re not ready to quite yet, they’ve come back with the best collection of their careers to date. If you like Noah and the Whale and understand the predicament in which you find yourself and need to know how to improve your taste radically, you could do a lot worse than adopt The Travelling Band as your new favourite.