Review Summary: Getting back on track by going back to basics.
British India are not the first band to falter with their second full-length release and they definitely will not be the last. After bursting on to the scene in 2007 with their energetically raw and catchy brand of alternative/garage-rock, the Melbourne-based quartet pretty much fell into every trap possible on 2008 LP ‘Thieves’. Released prematurely just twelve months after their promising debut ‘Guillotine’, the follow-up was filled with hookless mid-tempo cuts that only served to highlight the band’s lack of songwriting depth. Now, some two years on, British India are back with their third album ‘Avalanche’; an LP which has audibly taken a back to basics approach.
Clearly attempting to infuse as much of their kinetic and acclaimed live show into this release as practically possible, ‘Avalanche’ begins frenetically with sub two minute opener ‘Safari’, and only occasionally eases up on the pace and energy throughout its 34 minute running time. Well produced (by band manager Glenn Goldsmith) to bring out each individuals performance, highlight lead single ‘Vanilla’ best showcases the efficiency of the musicianship and matured ability to control a song’s dynamics. Even the simplest of guitar chords and riffs are made memorable at times, as heard on driving rocker ‘Messiah’, where guitarists Nic Wilson and Declan Melia seem to be having a lot of fun trading off of each other.
Melia’s polarizing shouty vocals are still evident on much of ‘Avalanche’, but he infuses just enough of a sing-along element to be catchy enough for both pubs and stadiums… This is not only the case on a song as commercial and melodic as 2nd single ‘Beneath The Satellites’, but also on such a carefree and loose track as ‘Friends’. It is just a shame that the band have not taken any great risk on this album in terms of pace and variety. An out and out ballad in the mould of surprising ‘Thieves’ highlight ‘Funeral For A Trend’ would not have gone astray, and as it is, the opening 75 seconds of ‘Because Of You’ (the only track which crosses the four minute mark) is probably the most subdued part of the LP.
“Take me somewhere I’ve not been before” Melia asks on ‘Beneath The Satellites’… Well, British India definitely do not do that to any great extent on ‘Avalanche’. However, as the interesting and well-chosen 1960’s sound-byte from Spiro Agnew (Richard Nixon’s vice-president) that begins ’90 Ways To Leave Your Lover’ suggests, an argument can be made that nothing much has changed deep down in half a century. They are not exactly reinventing the wheel here, but they are doing what they do best by utilizing the back to basics approach… And it is this method which gets British India back on track to give them the best chance of following through on their statement of intent during ‘Vanilla’: “Let’s do something amazing while we still can”
Recommended Tracks: Vanilla, Messiah, Beneath The Satellites & Friends.
Wow, that was quick. It was like eclectic appeared on queue. You're not stalking me, are you Michael?
Personally mate, I really like their debut (see my review), especially its first half. This is along similar lines, if not quite as memorable. Their 2nd album is pretty darn ordinary & is one of the major reasons for all the hate.
But yeah, I am not 100% sure why they get so much hate. It's definitely not their work ethic on the live circuit, because they're constantly touring. If I was to have a guess, it's simply because many do not like Declan's shouty vocals.