Album Review: Lonely The Brave – ‘The Hope List’

By January 22, 2021 Album, Reviews

After nearly a four year long wait, Lonely The Brave release their highly anticipated third album ‘The Hope List’. A record that promises an escape from the trials and tribulations of today’s world, it is the perfect example of how to kickstart a new year in music as the band venture into an enthralling new chapter of their journey.

Following what has been the most distressing year for the music industry, the Cambridge based alternative rockers of Lonely The Brave are embarking on a new era in their discography with the release of their incredible third album this month. Having undergone the departure of their formal lead singer in 2018, this is the first record that will feature the powerfully compelling vocals of their new frontman Jack Bennett. A record that is expected to be perceived by their devoted followers in many different lights, this spellbinding and mighty comeback can only make our hunger for the return of live music grow even stronger. A triumph in the world of rock, ‘The Hope List’ deserves to be played loud and proud, bursting through the speakers of every listener.

Captivating the attention of an audience upon first listen is something that every band and artist strives to achieve, and this is achieved seamlessly by Lonely The Brave with their explosive first track ‘Bound’. Originally released as a single and having been played multiple times on the airwaves, including being featured on Radio 1, the band set the bar high for the rest of the record from the get-go. Bennett’s voice is a force of its own against the roar of the heavily layered guitars and ferocious drums, as he sings, “How can you call it a win? / We’re down in our luck, don’t you save us.” Producing similar sounds to that of Bring Me The Horizon, strong choruses are a prevalent feature throughout this new record, and this first track is no exception. A band that is most known for their impeccable stage presence and live shows, ‘Bound’ has the capability to bring back the nostalgia of sweaty concert halls (remember those ha!) without leaving the house.

It has to be said that the best bands are those that take influence from a plethora of genres and artists, and this shines through in the work of the five piece. With songs as beautifully devised instrumentally such as ‘Distant Light’, ‘Chasing Knives’ and ‘Open Door’, the band must have taken some influence from the likes of Kings of Leon with sparkling guitar lines that echo throughout each track. “The soul needs help, more inner reasons / I’m wishing you well but I needed hell,” sings Bennett as the second track on the record, ‘Distant Light’, lyrically emphasises the importance of looking after one another during testing times. This is the stadium filler of the album. Equally as driving and upbeat, both ‘Chasing Knives’ and ‘Open Door’ are arguably the best showcases of Gavin Edgeley’s drumming, as they pose as two of the most dynamic anthems on the album. Whilst the climax of ‘Chasing Knives’ is driven by Bennett’s repeated vocal line ‘I’m done waiting’ and ‘Open Door’ finishes with Edgeley’s pounding drum patterns, there is no doubt that both songs take the listener on a musical rollercoaster.

Taking on a new direction in sound is exactly what the band has strived to achieve during the creation of their new record, and perhaps the most pivotal song on the album that establishes this is ‘Keeper’. The track that “defined the record” for the band, revealed in their mini-documentary ahead of the album’s release, cleverly intertwines Bennett’s velvety vocals and guitar lines submerged in reverb. Similarly, ‘The Hope List’ and title track of the album, creates the same resonance as ‘Keeper’ as it poses as a subtle alternative to the heaviness of the rest of the tracklist. “While I lie awake, I let the bitterness in,” sings Bennett as the song’s chorus is carried by his gorgeously haunting vocal harmonies over a harrowing lone guitar played continuously throughout. A marvel in introspective writing, the track’s stark and melancholy contrast from the rest of the album’s contents demonstrates the diversity of the band as writers and musicians.

It is impossible to argue with the production quality of this record – it is impeccable. Recorded at Lapwing Studios in West Yorkshire, owned by Bennett, this became the birthplace of the album as the frontman mixed and produced the record from his studio. It is definitely worth a look on Instagram or Facebook! The track that demonstrates the expertise and mastery of Bennett’s mixing and production skills is the eighth song on the album, ‘Something I Said’. One of the slower songs of the record, the balance between Bennett’s passion-fuelled vocals and gritty distorted guitars perfectly illustrates a bitter sense of longing and regret. “I’m sinking bitterness / Cause I got sick of blending in,” sings Bennett as this track takes the form of one of the most reflective and emotional songs that the band has ever produced.

Nothing makes a statement more than a hard-hitting musical celebration of angst and frustration; the tracks ‘Bright Eyes’ and ‘The Harrow’ incorporate the sounds of cacophonous guitar whines and fuzzes against angry drums that ricochet throughout each track. The third track on the album, ‘Bright Eyes’ opens with what can only be described as a sonic force smashing through a brick wall. The influences of Twin Atlantic and Biffy Clyro must have been considered during the making of this track. “Lessons learnt along the line / Staking out the truth or lie / We trade in fear of losing time,” Bennett sings as his metaphorical mastery prevails yet again, as this song surrounds the ongoing theme of taking on new perspectives. The same goes for the closing track of the album ‘The Harrow’ which embodies the well-known phrase ‘going out with a bang’. With the hope of gigs and concerts returning to their normal state in the near future, this will be the perfect set finisher with its climactic ending that demonstrates the sheer musical power of this band. If only there was a mosh pit to accompany this electrifying last track.

A personal favourite, the track ‘Your Heavy Heart’ is bound to heavily resonate with the band’s audience following the events of the past year and the suffocating loneliness that the current state of the world has placed on everyone’s shoulders. “I’m so sick of it all, in the dying light of purpose,” admits Bennett through his choice of honest lyrics. A song that is reminiscent of Kings of Leon’s ‘Cold Desert’, its vulnerable atmosphere portrays an image of crying in the pelting rain asking for the answers to life’s toughest questions. With a haunting guitar line that permeates the stripped back track, it perfectly captures the feeling of numbness and frustration in an incredibly emotional ballad.

It goes without saying that Lonely The Brave’s latest release ‘The Hope List’ will be received by listeners in many different ways, as it presents the band’s growth as writers and their exploration into new avenues of sound. Despite the uncertainty of today’s world especially for the music industry, this musical spectacle encapsulates the band’s message of finding light in chaos. A stunning comeback for a band that remain undefeated despite the turbulence that has been thrown their way throughout their artistry, it is to be hoped that every listener can take at least something from this masterpiece. For Lonely The Brave, this record is the proof that their artistic journey is not over yet – this is only just the beginning.

Words: Lucy Tessier

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