Clearly not named after their hometown
Quietland hail from deepest darkest Salford and have been working and writing together for the last ten years. They finally decided that it’s time the rest of the world got to hear what they’ve been up to during that time with the release of the full length ‘Output 1’ and it’s an interesting if not always instantly accessible piece of work.
Opening track ‘Noblesse Oblige’ is a fairly standard indie rock outing, it has the feel of Stateless or similar in that it has that big sounding break but it’s not the best or most memorable tune on offer here. ‘Mityas Last Word’ again has the big middle section, which grabs the interest but it’s pretty sparse on the way to it with the vocals being particularly exposed here and with their harsh delivery (courtesy of Matt Linley) it doesn’t always make for easy listening as he flits between styles akin to Muse and the Mars Volta.
It’s not until track three where ‘Cotton wool’ blends jerky rhythms with the first really catchy moments on the album that we get a glimpse of Quietland’s real potential. This just has much more of a groove about it than the opening tracks. ‘Shade of Black’ follows and is a mellower, acoustic track and is decent enough but despite some impressive Clannad style harmonies it lacks the big hook.
‘I’m Tired’ is where the Porcupine Tree/Steven Wilson influence really comes through, sounding like it could have been lifted from ‘Stupid Dream’. It has a good flow about it and the quieter vocals work well alongside more lavish instrumentation. ‘Mityas Next Word’ keeps up the standard with a good, up tempo track that has a feel good vibe about it and more PT influenced arrangements mid way through, particularly with the heavy guitar part.
The oddly titled ‘Nai Stusay Bai Bai’ keeps the relaxed feel despite its busy verse and brings a return to the 80s Clannad harmonies, which is no bad thing and they work well here, ‘Nai Stusay Bai Bai’ forming part of a strong clutch of songs mid-way through. There is the odd slip and ‘Ambivalence’ for example, is decent but rather forgettable and it’s left to ‘Pale & Wired’ to bring things back on track with a good driving rhythm. Linley’s vocals do grate a little at times but then they work well at times too; closing track ‘Varnish’ is spoiled though as it’s gentle, lilting verse is forced into a loud and abrasive chorus. You just get the feeling that a second and more subtle vocal part would give greater contrast and a more even feel to the whole album.
All in all though Output 1 has enough of an indie feel to it to harness a section of that market and yet it follows distinctly in the footsteps of Blackfield in the more melancholy moments (‘Leviathan Grace’ perhaps the best example). There is a healthy backbone of solid material on offer here and whilst at times it meanders away from the path a little, it’s a solid platform on which to build and it will be interesting to see how they progress, presumably with Output 2.