Once again with bands who are my personal friends I find myself getting the criticisms out of the way early.  In this case it is that I have seen pretty much all of these songs performed live, and one or two don’t quite retain that zip in their recorded form.  Maybe I just have to accept that recorded music is simply different, and that the messy thrill of a raucous live show, which this band absolutely always deliver, is just nigh on impossible to translate directly into a studio recording.  The highs and lows have been smoothed out just a little, I’d say, and might be something worth addressing for a full album.

It doesn’t matter though, because this is still a fucking great EP – one of two they’ve released this year already.  Perhaps inevitably for a band whose lead instrument is pretty close to actually being the drums, the rhythms on this are just a bit weird, really insistent, and completely brilliant.  Between You’ve Got it All and Into the Wild they really don’t give you much room for breath.  And by the time the thumping drums and snarling guitars of the latter come to an end you really do just find yourself thinking ‘fucking hell!’ and wanting to chuckle and toast the band with with a sloppily handled pint.  It’s a fucking great start to a record.

They give you a moment to rest with Crossing Hearts, which I must confess has yet to entirely worm its way into my affections, but which is an important change of pace for the sequencing of the record as a whole.  It doesn’t last long though; Blame it on Me starts with a thunderous bashing and a snarl of guitar, which is almost immediately replaced by a wail of vocals, before settling down to something a little less fearsome.  But fucking hell, point made, they are rocking these days!

I don’t know what it is that they do that feels so different, because in most ways their music is quite familiar.  Nevertheless I find it really tricky to pin down.  It’s not exactly Americana, but although there’s a lot of punk in it at times it’s still not really punk, and it’s not what I’d call rock ‘n’ roll either.  A Horse’s Grin maybe comes back to the more familiar, rolling sound of early Sparrow stuff, but the real message from this EP for me is that Sparrow & the Workshop, having taken a little time to find their feet and settle with their initial sound, have now decided that they are going to come at their audience with all guns blazing.

I have to confess that I found Into the Wild a little disorientating at first, but that’s perhaps no surprise.  I always love it when a band can ride out the early flush of excitement generated by their very first songs, and then come back with more really high quality stuff at just the point when so many bands falter and fail to show any real substance.  This lot, it appears, really are the business and I cannot wait for their debut album, I really can’t.

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From the Song, by Toad Archives. Visit Song, by Toad for more from Matthew.

Video below from previous Sparrow and the Workshop single ‘Devil Song’.


Photo Credit: markusthorsen