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Keith - Red Thread

Keith, Red Thread

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

MANCHESTER continues to provide fertile ground for promising guitar-based bands if the new album from Keith is anything to go by.

Flitting between Smiths-influenced indie pop, atmospheric ballads and Eno-style avant garde textures, Red Thread is an extremely impressive debut offering that heralds the arrival of another strong talent.

The album initially began life as an EP but was extended when the band failed to agree on which tracks to put out next. Its name, meanwhile, is dedicated to the ‘red thread’ that formed throughout the many different styles their music embraces – from dance and folk, to indie.

Recent single, Back There, was a classic example of what to expect in terms of quality. Led by Oli Bayston’s crisp vocals, the track effortlessly put forward some strong melodies ripped right out of classic Smiths songs of old, snappy beats and an overall sense of punchiness that was difficult to ignore. What’s more, they did it with the help of electronica experimentalist Nich Phillips, aka Boxsaga.

But while Back There kicks off the album on a familiar note, it’s not the whole story. The constantly evolving musical style is a joy to behold and the journey the album takes you on extremely enjoyable.

Highlights include the folk-tinged bittersweet melody of Killing Me with its lush guitar chords, enchanting beats and laidback vocal style. It’s the sort of track that instantly impresses with its breezy style.

Mona Lisa’s Child is constructed around the same sort of rolling acoustic guitar riffs that made Jose Gonzales’ Heartbeats so endearing – albeit with a more Mancunian set of vocals. It eventually drops a twisted disco beat to accompany the guitar chords, while lyrically, it drops some memorable lines, such as ‘now is the winter of our discontented style’.

Gunshot Revelry is another impressive offering – the riffs helping to conjure an atmospheric ballad that hints at psychedelia.

While Faces drops some Eno-esque beats and some genuinely enchanting guitar riffs that hint at the depth and scope of bands like The Cure. It’s a track that just keeps getting better the more you listen to it and one of the outright highlights.

More straight-forward and indie-driven is Leave It Now, For Now, which reverts to the classic style of indie stalwarts such as The Smiths, or Hold That Gun.

But the album seldom stays in any one genre for too long, constantly experimenting with the Keith sound and changing gear. Hence, while some bands close out their albums in safe style, Keith continue to expand their sound.

The Miller, for instance, is a very experimental offering that takes a little getting used to but which pays big rewards eventually. It’s an instrumental that changes gears from Eno-styled ambience to Doors-based hammond organs, complete with enchanting guitar riffs and you’ll want to hear it over and over again.

Final track Down Below, meanwhile, concludes things on a supremely laidback note – fusing some lush guitar riffs with more effective drums and vocals.

Drummer Johnny puts it best when he describes the album as a “kind of Greatest Hits of where we’re up to at this point”.

It’s a wonderfully eclectic listen that really deserves a wide listener base.

Track listing:

  1. Back There
  2. Killing Me
  3. Hold That Gun
  4. Mona Lisa’s Child
  5. Unsold Thoughts
  6. Gunshot Revelry
  7. Faces
  8. Leave It Now For Now
  9. You
  10. Miller
  11. Down Below