William the Conqueror – Bleeding on the
William the Conqueror - Bleeding on the Soundtracks
Release Date: 15th February 2019
This album isn’t out for a couple of weeks but I’m seriously in danger of getting obsessive over this one so I’ve got to get it out there and shared with the world before I start doing obscene things with it. Cornish trio William the Conqueror have been on my list of ‘ones to check out’ for a while now so the only downside of this latest release is that it’s made me realise what I’ve been missing out on. So, as a public service to you all, if you’re not already a fan of William the Conqueror then now is the time to get on board with them if you know what’s good for you.
‘Bleeding on the Soundtrack’ is apparently the second album in a trilogy documenting the life of frontman Ruari Joseph and this one deals with adolescence which is, perhaps, what makes it just so delicious. Kicking off proceedings is ‘Path of the Crow’, we find our heroes in swooning indie form that takes you back to the days of Belly and Teenage Fanclub with Joseph’s emotive vocal drawing you in to the fuzzed up guitars. This, however, is just the appetiser. The woozy guitars that introduce the bluesy amble of ‘Thank Me Later’ put you in mind of West Coast jam bands but as the track builds and that hi-gat gets opened up to great effect you can’t help but admire the authenticity in the melodies and the story-telling.
In an era when the music world is flooded with dry, meaningless lyrics, Ruari Joseph provides us with a juicy, sumptuous buffet of words set to rootsy music. A great example of this plentiful bounty can be found on ‘Madness on the Line’ which opens with a blues version of the opening bass line from ‘I Feel Love’ (complete with feedback taking Donna Summer’s place). “Your answers on a postcard and a another breadcumb trail, I’ve got madness on the line and thunder in my sail” sings Joseph atop the increasingly maniacal blues stomp and if you’re not in love by now then just wait for what’s next. ‘The Burden’ slows everything right down to a sombre and mournful acoustic riff with a soft shuffle and the kind of lyrics that will make you miss someone that haven’t thought about in a while. I first heard this song on the day my Grandfather died and the line “Don’t mean to sound misleading but no use ever came from grieving” brought me to a literal and figurative stand still inside a shopping mall. The power of music, right there.
|William the Conqueror
The album’s title track, ‘Bleeding on the Soundtrack’, has a delightfully unsteady blues stagger about it, along with a rolling bass line performed beautifully by Naomi Holmas while Joseph spins his yarns with his gravelly, weary tones. ‘Looking for the Cure’ is a perky indie romp with a sense of optimism in the guitars and the perfect energy for a summer’s day road trip while you bunk off work and just get out of town for a day. On ‘The Curse of Friends’, the band draw strongly from the surroundings of their Newquay by building a song like the swell of the tides from a gentle trickle in to an unstoppable force of nature crashing on the beach of Joseph’s adolescent mistakes and regrets.
The country infused twang of ‘Be So Kind’ swings the mood back to something gentler and less intense, perfectly encapsulating those halcyon summer days of youth that last forever (or at least until you get home and fall out with someone – anyone – in your family). My favourite track of the album is ‘Sensitive Side’, a track which draws on blues, glam rock and the Americana of Springsteen to create a tale of teenage love that will resonate with anyone who had a tortured soul and a lack of confidence during those formative years (yeah, pretty much all of us apart from the popular kids, right?). With an unrelenting garage-rock energy and the fuzzy guitars turned up to 11, Joseph laments “For all you despise may I apologise, can we talk now it’s been several years? Cos the wounds are all healed at my end the ego has gone and so have the tears”. It is glorious.
The perfectly formed album finishes on ‘Within Your Spell’, a gentle acoustic melody swollen with strings and nudged along with some deft drumming from Harry Harding. This is the song to put on at the end of a long day when the lights are turned down and you’re left alone with your thoughts – it is six and a quarter minutes of distilled, raw and unfettered beauty coming straight from the heart of a songwriter at the top of his game. Adolescence is so ripe with songwriting opportunities, but the mistake so often made is to write those songs during adolescence itself. The genius and power of this album comes in both the reflection as well as the ability to tap back in to those raw emotions of that potent time. If this isn’t on my album of the year shortlist at the end of 2019 then everyone else has played an absolute blinder and we may find that we are living in a golden age for music.
15th February – The Drift Record Shop, Totnes
17th April – Thekla, Bristol
18th April – Deaf Institute, Manchester
23rd April – Heartbreakers, Southampton
25th April – Prince Albert, Brighton
26th April – Fat Lils, Witney
27th April – Cluny 2, Newcastle upon Tyne
1st May – The Hug and Pint, Glasgow
8th May – The Lending Room, Leeds
10th May – The RAFA Club, St David’s
15th May – The Musician, Leicester
18th May – The Old Bakery, Truro
21st May – The Lexington, London
23rd May – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
24th May – Bodega, Nottingham