A Soulful Brit-Rock Excursion to 1974 and Back Again via The Streets of Stoke Newington.
On this release, the Treetop Flyers (I agonised over the use of the use of “the” but the former English teacher in me; who likes the use of the definite article won) declare that they’re moving away from the West Coast US sound of prior releases, towards a more domestic/London sound. |
While that’s true in part, there’s no escaping the fact that the influences on their influences (very meta) straddle many geographical and musical boundaries.
Opener “Golden Hour” has a ramshackle Faces-type groove with hints of the Allman Brothers in there too; and all of a sudden we’re back in 1974 (but better produced and with more far more economical songwriting).
“Dancing Figurines” which follows features a wah pedal and soaring “sha-la-la” backing vocals over Ronnie Lane-alike goodness.
There’s even a bit of late Thin Lizzy doubled guitar too, which can’t be a bad thing; can it?
“100” starts off – and continues – as a soulful singalong stomper; sounding something that sounds like the house band at the Torch would have played to a touring US act like Major Lance, in the pre-punk days – plenty of enthusiasm, but with an extra gritty UK edge to the S.O.U.L.
That same soulful groove continues on “Castlewood Road” which is a tribute to where the band’s lead guitarist Laurie Sherman lives, and the accompanying video was even shot in Laurie’s house!
It’s got more of a Van Morrison vibe to the previous track in its staccato brass and soaring vocals.
“River” is more laid back, almost jazzy in tone and its liquid sax and guitar accompaniment provide a fine musical metaphor – it’s warm summer night music for the middle of December.
The title track “Old Habits” follows and straddles many musical boundaries – there’s Soul, confessional singer-songwriter piano and call and response titbits scattered throughout, which leads these ears towards more anglophile Father John Misty territory.
Which is an interesting place!
“Cool Your Jets” ups the pace – as it’s an early Slade album track writ large – no nonsense boogie, cowbell, motorbike sound effects and catchy choruses all jumping into bed with the song and everything takes off with a smooth sax solo, before a tempo change that will definitely catch you off guard.
“Out the Blue” utilises picked rhythmic guitar and shaker to evoke the Faces again, but with a smoother vocal than Rod the Mod ever managed. There’s even a bit of a psychedelic production wash too, which gives the track a bigger sound.
“Sometimes” vocally sits somewhere close to a soulful Jason Isbell – tempo and dynamic musical shifts create a deliberately jarring musical mis-en-scene, but a firm melody ties it all together.
Things close with the more downbeat “Night Choir”, dominated by vocal piano, bass and drums with occasional fills from double-tracked guitar; it fits well with the jazzier sounds earlier on the album in songs like “River” and the title track.
So, it’s a sideways step for Treetop Flyers (No “the” this time guys!) – they’ve created a soulful Brit-Rock excursion to 1974 and back again via the streets of Stoke Newington; that will be the perfect soundtrack for warm summer nights and dark winter ones too.
Released December 3rd 2021
Review by Nick Barber
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