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Small Victories - Holding on Hopefully


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 Yoxall (bass).

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 that follows.

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 Turin Brakes.

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.

Track listing:
1. A Poor Man's Opera

2. Come What May
3. Holding on Hopefully
4. Thawed
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

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