GOLDHEART ASSEMBLY – Wolves And Thieves (Fierce Panda)

After monopolising the last column, I feel there has been a distinct lack of folk this time, so to make up for it we have Goldheart Assembly. Hailing from London, but recording their music in a Norfolk steam train museum, this six piece can easily take their place alongside the Mumfords and Noah & the Whale with this album. Like their contemporaries, they take a healthy dose of Americana and then try to produce a British version of it, resulting in a weird blend of West Coast/East Anglian folk music. ‘King Of Rome’ is a radio-friendly rocker to open the album, but is a perfect example of the sound that they are going for, while ‘Anvil’ goes the Fleet Foxes route with some exquisite harmonies on a lovely acoustic number. ‘Last Decade’ is another gentle song which benefits from the band’s soaring harmonies, and in ‘Hope Hung High’ we are treated to the band at their best, with a tune that sticks in your mind after one hearing, and the whole thing infused with some great vocal and guitar work. ‘So Long Christopher’ strips things right back with a sparse keyboards/vocal intro, before the guitar chimes in and the rest of the band gently make their presence felt. The freakout in the middle does sound a bit out of place, although I suppose they had their reasons for sticking it in there. ‘Engraver’s Daughter’ is another song that starts slowly and then gradually builds up to climax with a euphoric chorus and a great instrumental wind-down. ‘Jesus Wheel’ utilises the rhythm of the trains from the museum to give the song an interesting introduction, but when it gets going it also turns out to be one of my favourite tracks on here. ‘Reminder’ is a jaunty little song, with some effective twangy guitar and a loping reggae feel to it, but when it descends into manic laughter it gets just a little bit creepy. ‘Under The Waterway’ breaks out the ukeleles, and while it is the most overtly folky song on here the band still manage to make it sound entirely contemporary with their sheer exuberance. ‘Carnival 4 (The Carrying Song)’ on the other hand, is where the band excel in their songwriting, coming up with the sort of tune that you think you have known forever, smothering it in those exquisite harmonies, and then rounding it off with an extended fadeout that you just don’t want to end (and it doesn’t). ‘Boulevards’ is the only track on here that doesn’t really work, being a bit of a downer on which to end this otherwise superb album, but I can easily forgive them that after the other eleven cracking songs. Another great debut by an up and coming band, and further proof that folk is becoming the new rock’n’roll.
  King Of Rome