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WE REVIEW THE NEW ALBUM FROM THE FAREWELL STATE

Sheffield alternative rock outfit The Farewell State’s debut album Dial Everything has been in the works for fourteen years, its development allegedly hampered by floods(!), deaths, and the pandemic. Professing to be “keepers of the dying rock flame”, singer and songwriter Simon Roberts pursues an earnest, indie sound fuelled by impassioned denunciations of the political milieu but clouded by a clear veneration for rock at its most parochial and conservative.

Roberts’ lyrical paeans to universal themes of communal solidarity, empathy, and compassion in the atomised contemporary are subject matter that’s worn on his sleeve, a refreshing eschewing of ironic distance or glib irreverence that’s often deployed to tackle themes of social decline. “I don’t wanna build walls, I wanna join hands” should come off hokey on album opener ‘Songs of Hope & Understanding’, but open, authentic declarations of comradeship are welcome in an age of rift and ever-deepening divisions.

These sincere sentiments unfortunately are scored by an indie-rock template which rarely offers any surprises, sonically or compositionally. ‘Sister Amnesia’ reaches for U2’s anthemic chime but lacks their stirring payoffs, and ‘Fragments of Film’ chugs along awkwardly like a low-energy Stereophonics. The band can dial the rock belligerence up when they want to, lead single ‘Year Zero’ or ‘Break the Past’ break through the album’s mainstream wash with stinging solos and garage chop which provide the album its most memorable highlights.

The Farewell State’s rousing songcraft and ardent lyrical reach carry Dial Everything some distance, but ultimately peters and sputters to a stop, ensconced in heritage rock convention. With one foot in honest, heartland indie, there’s a need for some creative U-turns or unexpected flavours that could counterbalance the album’s orthodox character which frustratingly is never, quite met.

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