The Hours - Narcissus Road
Review by Jack Foley
JARVIS Cocker is quoted as saying: “The Hours are Antony Genn and Martin Slattery. They understand what music is for – it’s for human beings to communicate with other human beings. It’s that simple, it’s that important. Let them into your life. You won’t regret it.”
It’s good advice from one of the music industry’s most respected figures. Narcissus Road, the self-produced debut album from Genn and Slattery, boasts some excellent singles, no matter what you think of the overall record.
Take the fantastically upbeat Ali In The Jungle as a prime example. It’s an inspirational piece of songwriting that’s derived from one of the sporting world’s greatest triumphs. And it concludes with a nod to that magical night of boxing, when Muhammad Ali took a giant leap towards immortality.
Opening like a rapidly ticking clock, the track then combines a thrilling guitar riff with some spine-tingling piano chords even before the singing begins. Opening verse, “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” is salient advice for anyone who finds the daily grind tough, as is the follow-up “it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.” And the chorus of “everybody gets knocked down, how quick are you gonna get up?” is truly worth getting behind.
When you set it against the triumphs of people like Mandela and Ali (both of whom are name-checked), it’s evidence of how overcoming hardship can lead to the greatest rewards. It’s tribute to The Hours, however, that such potentially preachy material is delivered with such gusto in a manner that’s as inspiring as it’s intended to be.
The melodies are strong, the overall effect rousing. You’ll be singing along in live form and, hopefully, embracing its values.
Likewise, majestic second single Back When You Were Good, an awe-inspiring recording that has to rate as one of the most breathtakingly beautiful tracks you’ll hear all year. The combination of epic piano and rolling drum beats lends proceedings a cinematic sweep that provides a terrific backdrop to the passionate vocals. It’s a track to melt the hardest heart.
Reassuringly, it’s not just the singles that stand out. Love You More is an uptempo combination of swirling piano loops, jagged guitar riffs and hand-clap drum beats that provide the setting for another rousing effort. It’s a love song that places human feeling above material possession and it’s utterly, utterly enchanting without ever coming close to being schmaltzy.
And I Miss You is a heartbreakingly tender, Coldplay-inspired, piano-led ballad that drips with melancholy and longing. It’s compulsive evidence of The Hours’ ability to juggle upbeat, melody strewn crowd-pleasers, with songs that break the heart and quietly take the breath away.
Without question, Narcissus Road looks set to become one of the albums of the year.
Download picks: Ali In The Jungle, Back When You Were Good, Love You More, I Miss You.
Editor’s note: This review was constructed from an album sampler, rather than being able to hear the whole record. But the tracks were so darn good we felt we had to rave…