‘for Abel’ Album Launch, Glasgow – Greater Inventions …. And More


Time passes quick, although the making of For Abel’s debut album has been a long time coming. The band have been about in Glasgow for some time now. It was under their old name of Nacional about 4 years ago that I first saw them play. They’ve kept at it and done it their own way, and with a few twists and turns along the way, have finally released their debut album, surely making everything look that bit brighter for the band knowing their music is out there and beginning to get the attention it deserves. Having released a couple of singles on the ‘Art Goes Pop’ label, a pleasing union with Glasgow’s Flowers in the Dustbin finally fell into place, with both parties ‘happy as Larry’ to be putting this record out. It’s not easy getting noticed these days, but the name of their debut album ‘Greater Inventions’ seems to imply that the band have found a certain all encompassing magic or raison d’etre that is perhaps bigger than the sum of its parts.

I’m sure there were many people who turned up to Stereo in Glasgow to watch For Abel perform at the launch of their album with equal excitement, and a general sense of well being was in the air -  not least for Robert Armstrong and his band mates, who with good reason to celebrate proclaimed ‘it’s the greatest day’ before launching into their set.

With its catchy and spiky melody and guitar, opener ‘Telephone’ sets well the tone for songs that, throughout this album build to an intensity that rise above the preceding verse and choruses. Just when you think you have a handle on the song and all is driving along well, then the ante is upped and with soul searching urgency lyrics are sung with poignancy “I’m just reminded I don’t need this anymore’ and in anthemic style….A homage to the Wedding Present’s –‘Brassneck’ – a band For Abel consider to be influential on their sound and it is plain to see why.

One of the reasons I like these occasional reviews  is it gives me a chance to hark on about those great songs that got forgotten, overlooked by other bands, or just lost in time and space… Do me a favour and listen to ‘Wembley’ by The Candyskins. There is no way to easily come up with inspired indie pop like this but For Abel, they manage it here, and the first half of this album grabs you with at least four or five potential singles. After a great angular guitar and vocal intro the band breaks in with a blissful energy into the song ‘I want to see you sway’. This is what I love about this band …well structured songs that break through into punching choruses with a force equal in dynamics as emotions. With Rob’s lyrics taking inspiration from the drama of relationships these songs shine with a forceful pop sensibility.

Having completed and mastered the album with the production skills of Sam Smith in Green Door Studios, Glasgow, the band have been busy on the road from the north to south of the UK. Watching them tonight, For Abel are tight… any glitches in their sound have been ironed out on tour and the band live show a level of maturity and purpose that is further enhanced from the achievements of their recording… demonstrating how being on the road helps to define a band’s sound. Stereo has fine acoustics, anyone who watches gigs there will tell you, but the sound engineer tonight wanted to ensure this was top notch! He did well. The band played in top form – their infectious form of guitar pop hitting the audience with resonance and intensity.

‘Yorkshire’ – one of my favourites from the album has a, warmth, speed and energy…a fusion of bass lines and guitar riffs with heartfelt vocals… charismatically blends into a delicate pop song at times stripped back to the bare essentials where the quality of song writing shines through…’All these promises, all these promises.. and I know we’ll be friends once again’.  Here again the style and depth found in the strumming of fuzzy warm guitars echoes the Wedding Present at their most formidable…

The album takes a deeper more introverted form in places … Throughout, positive, yet at times introverted vocals and furious driving guitars combine to great effect… on the expansive sounding First Killing, this is entwined with ‘Joy Division esque’ melancholia. Songs such as ‘You wear it well’ stand up well with their own persona and story, helping define  an at times complex and layered sound, these songs really grow on you, and you will likely be hooked after a few listens…

Having become  familiar with this album – ‘Lucas’ has grown into perhaps my favourite track – delving into shrill, punk like lyrics the song retains a kind of ‘new wave Clash’ feel… edgy guitars, rolling basslines and fills capture the essence of what this band do so well.

‘Broken Hands’ with the combination of synced guitar and vocal melodies at times almost hints at the creeping explosions of sound that Sonic Youth put their name to and leads into the album closer ‘Forward Killing’ which shines and drives to the end of the album, leaving one exhausted after all of 35 mins or so of music … in need of a nice cup of tea or something to pick you up and put you back together again…  It’s a brilliant effort… and a great debut… enough said… look out for them.. and catch them live whilst you’ve got a chance… nothing lasts forever… but right now things are definitely happening for For Abel.

Preview tracks by For Abel

Flowers In the Dustbin
For Abel Myspace
Tom’s Flickr

By Tom Manley on June 2, 2011

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