Glasgow DIY/indie underground four-piece Vital Idles debut on new label Upset The Rhythm with 'Left Hand', their follow up to a couple of self-released demos and a single full length 7” release.
Utilising the expertise of fellow Glaswegian engineer Andy Monaghan and Edwin Stevens (aka Irma Vep), the group, spearheaded by their eerie yet endearing vocalist, Jessica Higgins, look to emerge from a somewhat esoteric musical cocoon and spread their newly acquired bigger-budget wings.
The first thing that stands out about Vital Idles is indeed singer Higgins, who has an almost Morrissey-esque feel to her vocal style and lyrics, and offers us up her own muddled musings on life, sometimes sounding like she's talking to herself, sometimes to anyone who'll listen, and sometimes to no one at all.
There's plenty of whimsical wisdom and world-weary wit to be found here, and these contradictions, almost like freshly formed cliches, give the album its greatest charm; an outlook on life that feels something like steering wildly through heavy traffic and just about managing to avoid an accident.
The rest of the band's sometimes fragile-sometimes feverish backing proves the perfect canvass for Higgins's paintbrush-flicking delivery, resulting in a very rough around the edges self portrait of a group who have been firmly planted in the trenches of their sound and are now ready to weather a run over the top.
After the riotous rollicking of opener “A Premise”, the band are quick to showcase a certain degree of variety to this sound with the differing numbers that are “Solid States” and “Chains”. The former has a kind of cloak-and-dagger feel to its main riff and proceeds at a cautious but calculating pace, whereas with “Chains” the intrigue lies in the upbeat almost vanilla guitar riff that accompanies Higgins's shoulder-shrugging vocals, and will deceive you into missing the deeper meaning behind the lyrics which is hidden in plain sight.
Other highlights include arguably the album's only foray into epic/anthemic territory, the immersive and bleak “Cave Raised”, and the feel good/not so good vibes of “Like Life”.
A thoroughly valiant effort from a band that enjoys life on the outskirts of mainstream conformity. This latest offering at times seems to tease a merging with the metropolis, but ultimately Higgins and Co opt to retain their mystique by mingling in the moonlight and shadows.