I really loved 2016's "I'm Not Well" so expectations are somewhat high. I want them to give me more emotive blues edged grunge. Their front man Mark Holley went to Iceland to write this album. The opener finds them remembering who they are but with a lusher sound that in it's androgyny reminds me more of Placebo than the last album did. It is suitably dynamic with smart melodies. Though it doesn't have the same raw urgency. There is more of a radio alternative rock feel to smoother "Manic In Me". It's pretty content in this territory and upbeat considering what we have heard from these guys in the past. Things continue down this more upbeat direction on "Saela".
There is a more organic sound to "the Big Wild". It is no where as brooding as their previous album. The casual strum has a more Police feel to it. The guitar playing is nuanced and these guys are good at what they are doing, I guess I am having to think about how invested I am in their previous sound. There is no way to avoid saying this is more middle of the road. This album sounds more like it was conceived on the beaches of California than in the cold of Iceland. I continue to wait for this album's explosive moment. Things do get closer to this on "Oh, It Had to be You". Gone are the almost punk like moments of tension. I suppose it could be described as introspective. They do have more colors of sound on this album. It makes me miss the band who played on "I'm Not Well" when this never moves into the dark corners that I want it to. It does have more of a dynamic build , but they never cut loose.
The first real rock is "Joy". It is still run through a radio filter and ebbs back down into this more atmospheric side. The rock that they do cut into still feels like they are driving with the breaks on. There are some cool guitar tones on the restrained "Am I Losing It". The guitar passages are almost Cure like. "Flowers" comes closer to resurrecting their older sound. Though with less teeth. Their is more of a Jeff Buckley influence on this album which really comes to the forefront on "Take Me Home". So in this way they are similar to Ours. There is a slight post-rock flavor to the atmospheric build of this one. It does swell into Holley using more of his gritty rock voice as well as a falsetto. He continues with this Jeff Buckley tribute on "Float On" which has a little more drive to it. While I am glad he found his upper register, I wish his vocals were at least more aggressive to compensate for the more atmospheric instrumentation. This is not bad it's just different and is going to take some getting used to. I'll give it an 8.5 and see how it grows on me. "I'm Not Well" got a 10 to put this in perspective.