This hasn’t been the easiest couple of years for Ham Sandwich. The departure of founder member and songwriter John Moore, the tragic loss of manager Derek Nally and some tumultuous personal events would have been enough to rock most bands. When they did re-emerge earlier this year with the ‘Out Of The Darkness’ single it was a pleasant enough but ultimately underwhelming return. Fortunately, this proved to be a false start. ‘The Naturist’ announced the arrival of second album White Fox in far more spectacular fashion, a sure fire contender for single of the year. It also suggested musical changes were afoot. The track opens the album in stunning fashion, a statement of intent that could easily have left of the record in the shade.
Thankfully there is no such problem. White Fox sees Ham Sandwich take the template of their debut and does little to change it. The strong songwriting is still there, as is the twisting vocal interplay. It’s not a difficult album, second or otherwise, instead revealing its charms from the very first listen. It also includes their best songs to date by a mile, no mean feat given the quality of Carry The Meek. The title track and new single ‘OH-OH’ tick the loud alternative box and ‘Models’ introduces an unexpected groove to proceedings. Ham Sandwich are at their strongest however when they self reflect, displaying an exquisite lightness of touch on the likes of ‘Ants’ and ‘Floors’. They are steered through all this by a towering vocal performance from Niamh Farrell, who moves from a roar to a whisper within the blink of an eye. The journey that go them to this point – releasing yet another of the year’s great Irish albums – may have not been the smoothest, but Ham Sandwich simply make it look easy.