[sic] Magazine

The Longcut – Arrows

It’s certainly been a protracted wait for a new album from Manchester’s The Longcut – previous album Open Hearts was released way back in 2009. Arrows feels like there’s less to prove this time round – many of the songs build on The Longcut’s tried and tested formula of drums/drum machine, brooding bass, layered guitars and shouty vocals (which are all present and intact), but it feels comfortable in its own skin, a little less angry, more reflective perhaps.

Those of you who recall the band’s first couple of EPs (Transition, A Quiet Life) from 2004/5 will not be disappointed. This album takes elements from the entirety of The Longcut’s broad palette – this is particularly evident during ‘Popic’ – with its central “It’s all happening… it’s all happening…” looping vocal.

The world has changed markedly since The Longcut first appeared in 2004. I remember the first time I heard ‘Transition’ and couldn’t believe just how powerful it was (and still is). Fourteen years later, I’m still in awe of their sound but simply enjoy it now for the fantastic record which it is rather than attempt to over-analyse and dissect as I maybe once did. Their arrival in 2004 – along with fellow Manchester band Nine Black Alps – heralded an exciting new breed of bands coming out of Manchester. Unfortunately, Arctic Monkeys crashed the party and many people’s gazes were suddenly diverted east towards Sheffield.

The fact remains that nobody else sounds like The Longcut though – even now in 2018. I don’t know of another band whose singer is also the band’s drummer, who plays a section of a track, then starts the drum machine and sings a section of vocals. Case in point – lead single ‘Deathmask’, which commences with a pulsating, energetic drum beat – it’s absolutely mesmerising. Some 3 minutes into the track, the vocals kick in and raise the roof. Believe me, you’ll be punching the air by the end of the track.

Many of the tracks on Arrows build around a loop that spirals out of an initial rhythm often propelled by the dark bass guitar of Jon Fearon – such as title track and album opener ‘Arrows’, which looks back not in anger but instead with an acknowledgement that actually everything’s worked out okay. ‘Kroqd’, which considers “the space between each other”, and is driven initially by a piano riff, is later overtaken by the slicing guitar sound of Lee Gale. ‘Monuments’, the album’s closing track, feels genuinely optimistic and inspiring – it’s arguably also a favourite track on the album; I particularly like the way it eventually peels away all the instrumentation and drifts towards the exit door with only a simple piano riff.

I don’t think that The Longcut are breaking new ground this time round – they don’t need to. They’re totally comfortable with their sound and are as vital now as they always were. If any confirmation were required at all that they should be part of the Class of 2018, simply listen to ‘Beasts’, which perfectly describes The Longcut’s sound and encapsulates their multi-layered, energetic sonic arrangements – or ‘Dancers’, which begins with a dance-like beat and later drives towards a soaring chorus.

One final word of advice… don’t leave it quite so long next time, lads? You’ve been sorely missed and the musical landscape in 2018 is crying out for you.

~Arrows is released on 6th April 2018 on Deltasonic as a limited-edition blue vinyl double LP.~