The Leeds quartet Deadwall make music that recalls that of acts from that big new acoustic boom that swept U.K. indie some years ago. It was a wave that included bands as disparate as Coldplay, I Am Kloot, and Clearlake but the over-arching common trait was that the groups' material favored flashes of gentle melodicism more than it did the short-and-sharp punk styles of the Class of '77. The Zero Cliff, out Friday on Hatch Records, similarly works its wonders through a rare mix of musicianship and mystery more than it does through a bunch of punchy hooks.
Deadwall -- Thomas Gourley (vocals, guitar), Christopher Duffin (keyboards), Tom Basri (bass), and Dominic Deane (drums) -- make music that recalls nothing so much as the numbers on Obscured By Clouds and other post-Syd, pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd records. If "Hall Of Mists" and "Cirrus Song" certainly sound like that stuff from the glory days of the Gilmour/Waters partnership, the spry "Heartlands" is a burst of catchiness that echoes Talk Talk and Seventies Genesis in equal measure. It is a clear single, gloriously supple and soaring in equal measure. Elsewhere, the down-tempo "Errant Love Song" charms easily, while the lush "Pristine Spirals" nods in the direction of recent material from Dutch Uncles and Wild Beasts. At their very best, like on the absolutely gorgeous "The Battle Of Kasumi", Deadwall use the vocals of Thomas Gourley to marvelous effect as a sort of instrument the other players can navigate around. As the melody on this one falls like a leaf slowly dropping to the ground in Autumn, the other musicians circle the vocal-line from Gourley until a guitar solo cuts through the mist and things sharpen again. It is a simply marvelous moment on perhaps the best song on The Zero Cliff.
On this, their second album, Deadwall have crafted something special. It is rare that I encounter music that's so hard to categorize but, hopefully, by name-dropping a few other acts I have done an adequate job at telling you what this sounds like, and the overall effect here awaiting astute listeners.
[Photo: Deadwall Facebook page]