On debut, “The Sadface Album”, Something Moves (or Somerset-based Chris Briden and some friends) navigates his way through angsty waters.
Born out personal relationships and changes happening to the backdrop of fraught world events in the years 2020-22. Briden and his collaborators wished to make an album that pleased them, rather than trying to second guess what the audience wanted.
I don’t think there’ll be any shortage of those who go with them though. “The Sadface Album” offers 12 tracks that showcase Briden’s heartfelt and melancholy vocal and his way with stark and bold lyric. Musically, the playing is inventive and varied, constantly shifting gear, doing something unpredictable and evolving.
Although the touchstone is often folky and acoustic, this really is only a starting point to a sound that becomes expansive and production that is consistently glorious.
On opener, “A Fraud”, bustling percussion combines with a sweet melody, introducing an immersive mood the listener will drift off to for the next 50 or so minutes.
The grand, choral “Bleaklow” follows, before things are stripped back on the gorgeous folk of “Fool”. “I’m a fool, in your eyes”, he sings, delivering one of those powerfully direct lines.
Album highlights include “The Worst Part”, in which the sense of unease is provided by unusual chord progressions and a lyric that laments that there’s “no point in putting effort into anything, it’s the worst part of making no sense at all”.
Things take a sideways turn on “Our Name Was Yours” to a more live sound where thrashing guitars are broken out. Perhaps think Jeff Buckley when he went a bit grunge and rocked out, or the rawer early days of Muse. There’s still a few studio tricks in there too.
Penultimate track, “Talking Machines”, addresses that feeling that everything we do can be recorded and monitored. The paranoia is soundtracked by the bleep of machines and a building and orchestrated band performance. Briden seeks escape to the country and the unleashed music seemingly performs it’s own fight back too.
Evidently a passion project several years in the making, Something Moves have realised their vision with an album both touchingly human and brimming with ambition and promise.
by Matt Nicholson