Things seemed to be about to go supernova for The Jane Bradfords in the wake of their debut albums success in 2008. Praise heaped on the band from Radio 1, commercial success with ad campaigns for BT and various TV advertisements and support slots with a who’s – who of indie music pointed to a very bright future ahead. With the release of the Judicial Duel EP at the tail-end of 2010, fans prepared for their second album with eager anticipation…but 2011 came and went, with only a duo of single releases. Had they been levelled by their sudden popularity and the expectations that came with it? Not in the slightest.
Opening with serious intent, the intro to the band’s solemnly titled second album pounds to life through the speakers; a fanfare announcing their return. Frontman Deci Gallens voice slides from under-breath whisper to a powerful refrain of “we been running all our lives”, in one line laying down his group’s hard-working ethos and the road they’ve travelled to lodge themselves firmly back in the public eye. It serves as a great through-point for those that missed out on their in that it showcases the peaks and valleys their music traverses; full of drum breakdowns and rousing, atmospheric guitars – simmering one minute, scorching the next.
Weighty comparisons were heaped on the band upon the release of their debut: Joy Division featured heavily, mainly due to the forlorn texture to Gallen’s vocals and the jerky, up-tempo nature of many of the songs. There’s more of an Echo and The Bunnymen via British Sea Power sound to tracks like ‘Judicial Duel’ and ‘Retro Romance’ but comparing them to other popular acts is useful only as a point of reference and tends to be reductive when considering them as a band in their own right. They have a distinct brand on their songs that doesn’t fully lend itself to any comparison: ‘Glow’ shoegazes into space like a late night/early morning cab ride home, guitars set firmly to reverb and vocals gliding from murmur to serene howl and ‘Tonight the World Always Ends’ snaps the listener back awake after a quieter spell with its lighters-at-the-ready finale.
The period in between albums has done anything but hinder this band’s potential. If anything the break seems to have helped their sound mature and grow naturally and also adds to Belfast’s diversity as the North’s musical epicentre. Don’t let the downbeat nature of the title fool you, this is rich, rewarding music from start to finish.