This review has been in the works for a bit (translation: laziness has been a very good friend of mine lately). Anyways, a couple of months ago I was here to talk about this band so the guys at AudioInferno thought it was only logical that I’d be the one to review this album (my first album review *shivers*, hopefully not my last).
Civil Twilight have been a breath of fresh air in the Alternative and Indie rock scene for over ten years now. Ever since their self titled début album in 2005, they haven’t stopped creating music that has given them international recognition.
The band which started with three members (Steven McKellar, Andrew McKeller and Richard Wouters) all migrated from South Africa to Los Angles in 2005. Joined by Kevin Dailey and later moving to Nashville in 2008, their third studio album ‘Story Of An Immigrant’ released on July 10th 2015 (yeah, I know I’m late) tells the story of a band who despite having gone through different stages and phases in their career, still haven’t forgotten where they are coming from.
The ARMA nominated album (in the best rock album category) is full of eclectic compositions and a variety of melodies reflecting the various influences and tastes they have picked up over the years while still retaining their originality and Steven McKellar’s rich tenor vocals.
The album kicks off with ‘Oh Daniel‘ a song that easily reminds you of an indie folk song probably from a band like Mumford & Sons or The Lumineers. At some point towards the middle of the song, you half-expect a banjo and some tambourines to come in but this doesn’t happen. The album progresses into ‘Holy Dove’ which is such a contrast to the first track (this was the point where I knew I was in for a ride). Holy Dove has a very Muse-like sound with a baseline and progression that easily reminds me of Muse’s “Uprising.”
The third track “When When” has an upbeat, by-the-beach, tribal feel that just makes you feel light on your feet and prone to sudden dancing. It is easily the most cheerful song on the album although the message is quite nostalgic. The transition between this song and the next song which happens to be the title track is quite fluid. Apart from the change of pace from fast to mid-tempo and this track being very atmospheric in nature, it still maintains the tribal feel of the previous track as you clearly hear the bongos playing. “Let It Go” maintains the mellow atmospheric feel of “Story Of An Immigrant” with more emphasis on Steven’s unique vocals with underlying synthetic effects.
“River Child”, “All My Clothes” and “The Other Side” once again show the diversity of the band, with strong electro pop influences (particularly River Child and The Other Side) and still maintaining a standard alternative sound.
“Didn’t Know When To Stop” which is probably my best song on the album is an upbeat Indie Rock number which reminds me of a TV on the Radio song or something Vampire Weekend will do when they are all excited. I particularly love this song because it’s a track that can almost be said to be anti-Civil Twilight. Granted the entire album is very different from the previous two (I’ll get to that in a bit) but this track had a feel that should stick with Indie Rock lovers all over.
Drawing the curtain on this album, “Only For A Time” and “Love Was All That Mattered” are two songs that give you a feeling of dependency. With little or no surprises or experimentation these tracks seem like a way of the band reminding us that no matter how bumpy the ride gets, we can always rely on them.
Critically speaking many would say that this album is a deviation from what we have come to know the band for over the years. This is probably because the songs that brought them to the limelight were all melancholic, self-reflecting and depressing in nature so people tend to put them in a box and create a stereotype.
In their defense (yes, I will defend them), I believe that every great band goes through a creative process that takes them to roads untraveled and enables them refine or redefine their sound. This is a third album and from the last two albums particularly the second “Holy Weather” it was fairly obvious that they had the potential to create such a work of art.
My only ‘issue’ with the album is the lack of fluidity in the transition between most tracks. Probably that could have been handled better and maybe the track listing should have been different. It still doesn’t change that this album was one to be reckoned with in the Alternative/Indie Rock scene last year and I simply cannot wait to see what they do next.
So err, give it a listen and let me know what y’all think, yeah?
Until next time!
This review is written by Billy Praise, a guest writer and regular contributor. He’s a big lover of Indie rock and can be found with earphones on jamming away. He wrote in response to our post WE WANT YOU, TO WRITE. Check out his posts for us also on the Indie rock scene in Africa: A little peek into the Indie Rock scene… & Indie Spotlight: Introducing Egyptian Maii Waleed