Review: Jack Foley
SMALL Victories have slowly been earning a name for themselves
for some time now, even though Holding on Hopefully represents
their first album.
Formerly known as Tommy and the Chauffer, during which time they
courted the interest of Xfm and earned a strong live reputation,
the Cradiff-based five-piece now begin to realise their potential
with a strong debut long-player which certainly enhances the repuation
as one of Wales' hottest prospects.
Musically very accomplished, and boasting a strong lead singer,
the band is comprised of James Chant (vocals, guitar), James Milford
(vocals), Jamie Beach (decks), James Hale (keyboards) and Ryan
The first thing to note about them is their strong guitar sound
which, in turn, provokes comparisons with the likes of Muse and
Coldplay (depending on the tempo), while also retaining a feel
of their own.
First track, A Poor Man's Opera, is purely instrumental
and a surprisingly strong wake-up call to the type of quality
All shimmering guitars, and slightly moody beats, the track is
a fine opening salvo, which quickly whets the appetite for more.
And while certain tracks fail to fire the imagination as comprehensively
as this one, there are still plenty of highlights to suggest that
Small Victories will be around for some time to come.
Track five, The Weight, is, for instance, a soaring blend
of violins, strings and drum loops that builds nicely to a catchy
chorus, while former single, Kids' Chorus, with its wistful
guitar riffs and even more angst-ridden lyrics is an excellent
showcase for the depth of feeling that goes into their songwriting.
Current single, Go Back To Bed America, with its topical
sentiment, and beguiling guitars and drums, is another sit up
and take notice moment, once more evoking comparisons with the
type of operatic songwriting that is helping to earn Muse such
kudos, while the epic Battle Waltz contains several guitar
solos that The Cure would be proud of.
The band only really come slightly unstuck during the quieter,
ballad moments, which fail to do justice to the lyrical style
of either singer, and which do away with the guitars (Marzipan
Fortune, being a classic example), but, fortunately, these are
kept to a minimum.
And for those with patience, a surprise bonus track, at the end
of the album, brings things to a suitably inspired finale, whilst
also evoking an inevitable comparison with the vocal style of
Small Victories' profile is already rising off the back of their
performance at this year's Reading Festival, and support slots
alongside OKGo and The Webb Brothers, but don't get against it
going into orbit next year, once this album has had chance to
properly get out there.
For Small Victories, the big battles may yet lie ahead, but the
groundwork certainly looks promising and this debut long-player
is a highly-recommended introduction to them.
1. A Poor Man's Opera
2. Come What May
3. Holding on Hopefully
5. The Weight
6. Kids' Chorus
7. Battle Waltz
8. Marzipan Fortune
9. Go Back To Bed America
10. Live By The Sword...
11. Catchphrase Kid
12. Bonus track