As powerful and emotive as ever, Tall Ships return with their first studio album in five years.
Upon first listen, it’s clear to see that Impressions is an effort that has been carefully meditated and pondered over for quite some time. The lengthy break between their debut album Everything Touching and their sophomoric effort was not entirely a deliberate, creative decision. The mental and financial health of the band was suffering as a result of the sudden success they experienced in 2012 and thus, a break was needed. And fair play to them. Mental health can sometimes go ignored and fall by the wayside, however, artists such as Modern Baseball make a point to emphasise the importance of having a good bill of health, mental or physical, whatever your profession may be. Tall Ships are another demonstration of setting the right example when it comes to dealing with mental health and it truly is endearing to see them back and fighting fit.
Logistical issues aside, the hiatus allowed for Tall Ships to return with a fresh perspective on their art. Impressions is incredibly introspective – a study of their past and their evolution from the plentiful obstacles they have overcome throughout their time as a band. Every lyric possesses deep meanings that I’m sure will resonate with a number of fans, however, I prefer to see this as an album that Tall Ships wrote for themselves – a sonic reminder of their triumphs. I have pure respect and admiration for Tall Ships, but I do have a few issues with this album. Vocalist/guitarist Ric Phethean broods across the nine tracks on this album and while soothing and technically fine, his vocals feel somewhat flat on certain tracks – lacking an energy that songs like Lucille and Road Not Taken cry out for.
Moreover, the album lacks distinction – for me personally, there is not much that sets the music on offer aside from the plethora of British-indie bands that the industry is littered with today. If one was to listen to Impressions without being aware of the emotional baggage that accompanies it, they may not bat an eyelid – which is a shame. Of course, there are highlights here. The pulsating bassline that follows the subdued crashing drums at the inception of Meditations On Loss offer a welcome change of pace to the pedestrian tempo that the majority of the other tracks follow. Petrichor is also a demonstration of good songwriting – its fluctuation between a subtle, poised verse and a soaring, euphoric chorus makes for good listening.
All in all, you should definitely listen to this album. Since it’s recent release, Tall Ships have been receiving a wholesome amount of praise for their second album and I can certainly see why. There is a lot on offer here, and I’m sure I will return to the standout tracks – unfortunately, the rest just falls a little short for me.