[sic] Magazine

The Domino State – Uneasy Lies The Crown

The Domino State have been stirring up the media lately with their single, ‘Firefly’. Whenever I’ve seen their name in print it is invariably followed with imagery such as “epic” , “brooding” and “doom-laden” . My kind of language. So when it came time for the five-piece to unveil their debut album it was never going to be a question of whether I’d take the bait, but rather how quickly could The Domino State reel me in.

There is a rain-swept Pennines feel to this bands music which prompts the thought that they should be Manchester based, rather than Londoners. No matter. There are precedents. Richly intense, anguished music has hailed from the nation’s Capital since The Sound in the early 80’s right up to current champions The Boxer Rebellion . If The Domino State can come anywhere near to matching either, they will have landed and netted this writer before tea.

Uneasy Lies The Crown opens with a minute of Doves -like ambience, before kick-starting with the impressive ‘We Must Not Shut Ourselves Away’. Here the bands widescreen ambitions are revealed. The chiming guitar sound is no surprise but the bold, sweeping chorus is a sure sign of confidence. This proves to be the first of a handful of radio-friendly anthems cleverly interspaced across the album.

And they keep ticking boxes. The bio that accompanied the album references two all-time favourites, The Chameleons and The Sound . They also profess a love of shoegaze. Uneasy Lies The Crown isn’t a shoegazing album but the guitars sound thrilling within their ‘proper song’ format. Case in point, ‘You Are The Winter’, which is the albums catchiest chorus of all, but listen to those laser-guided guitars and they could easily be Kitchens Of Distinction . I can’t help but admire this record for its variety. In between the epics, we find darker, icier tracks (‘Big Six Wheel’) and mellow, reflective pieces (‘Pompeii’). It is sequenced with skill and keeps us listening all the way to the climactic ‘Reverie’.

All things considered, I find myself having to question the ‘doom-laden’ tag. Bands like Exit Calm and Repeater are probably ahead on the angst stakes. What The Domino State do best are their unabashed anthems, their liberated, impassioned choruses. A track such as ‘What’s The Question’ provokes comparison with ‘Only Forever’ era Puressence , a time when the Mancunians were at their sweeping, majestic best. Just listen to how those strings surge. This isn’t the doleful, self-doubting sound of the inner-city. This is a warm, swelling, rallying cry with a lungful of the cleanest air.

Persevere with that crown guys. You might have to get used to it.

~Uneasy Lies The Crown is released 16th August 2010 on Exhibition Records.~