The brothers from the Isle of Wight return with new album Vamala after just a year since their last effort – the true mark of musicians thirsty to get their music out there and show off their skills and artistry. And since they are kin, and probably been living in each others pockets for most of their lives, their closeness comes through in the honesty and guile of their folk-tinged music.
Vamala manages to pack quite a few different styles into the album, ranging from electronica and folk, to piano ballads and hip-hop. Desire veers on the dance side and has New Order to thank for its beats, working well next to a floaty sombre feel with helium-tinged vocals. Not to be outdone, 3000 miles adds a hip-hop vibe into the equation, covering this in a blanket of self-confession and solitude.
Where the album really shines is when the brothers stop trying to be clever and keep in line with the basics. Sophia is a beautiful piano based ballad that Paul McCartney would be proud of, whereas Forever Be Upstanding at the Door is one of the more folky tracks borrowing heavily from the 60s movement and adds a loving look at New York into the mix.
For all its greatness the record does lack in a couple of areas. For some, the constant separation of styles could make the record feel a bit all over the place, and track The Balfron Tower is almost begging for a drum track to be added. Its one of those albums where it depends on taste really – some love a diverse record, others prefer a common theme.
The album is nicely closed off with track Roll Me Out; it’s another folk track that shows talent in lyrics, managing to speak about nothing but speak about everything at the same time – only something true masters of the folk scene can manage. Champs are definitely onto something if they can consolidate their sound. And if you think Vamala was rushed out too quickly you’d be mistaken; you can hear the care that has gone into the songs and the boys have a bright future.