[sic] Magazine

The Domino State – Open Heart World

About a squillion years ago, I flicked through the pages of The Sunday Times’ Culture magazine and within the two expansive pages (!!) of music coverage, there was a mention in the bottom right-hand corner of a new band called The Domino State whose debut single ‘Iron Mask’ had recently been released. From memory, the words ‘brooding’ and ‘guitar-infused’ were used – always good vocabulary in my world. And while we’re on the subject, why are there only a handful of pages of music coverage in The Sunday Times? It’s a question I’ve often wondered as I’m dropping the 550 page Sports section into the recycling bin. I’m exaggerating, of course, but you get the point…

I’ve seen The Domino State play live several times since that mention – in Nottingham, Manchester and Glastonbury Festival (twice). Their debut album Uneasy Lies The Crown is still one of the most played CDs in my collection during recent years. In fact, it’s had several hundred spins since I first purchased a copy at their Manchester Night ‘n’ Day gig in 2010. At the time, I wrote a review suggesting that that record should be enough to guarantee them a headline slot on The Other Stage at Glastonbury Festival the following year. If only life was fairer. If you ever have the chance to hear them playing ‘This Oubliette’ live, like me you’ll agree that it sounds simply incredible. I once told Jim Machin from the band that I felt the only way they could improve their live set would be to extend ‘This Oubliette’ to some 20 minutes – and to drench the ending with layers of feedback.

I think you get the picture that Open Heart World, their sophomore effort, has a lot to live up to. The first thing which is immediately evident is that the guitars don’t take prominence this time around, with strings much more in the foreground. In fact, it almost feels like The Domino State mk. 2. Where their previous album potentially stood out as being a homage to shoegaze bands such as Ride, Open Heart World really does sit well with the class of 2015. On the evidence of this album, I’d certainly expect them to win lots of converts across the European festival circuit. Their sound is polished, layered, lush, ethereal even.

‘Your Love’, released briefly by the band in November 2013, kind of sets the tone for the album. In a way, ‘Your Love’ acts as a sort of statement of intent. Things slow down only when we reach the title track ‘Open Heart World’ and in particular ‘We Will Surrender’.

As a collection of songs, these work particularly well together. The band could very easily have delivered Uneasy lies The Crown #2 – and that was possibly the starting point for this album, but the songs have matured just as the band has. I’ve found myself reaching the end of the album and instantly pressing play several times. There are of course highlights such as ‘This Is Grey’, ‘No Glory’ and ‘Your Love’, but really – everything sits well here, nothing feels out of place, all the required ingredients are intact.

It seems distinctly unfair that in a country where live music in 2015 is dominated by acts such as Ed Sheeran, Kasabian and Lady Gaga – that The Domino State are releasing albums of this quality and struggling to be heard just seems plain wrong.

Just one final comment – if you’re reading lads, please don’t leave it quite so long before delivering the next one. In the meantime, this one should keep me going until at least 2018…

Editor’s note: At the time of press The Domino State are offering Open Heart World as a ‘pay what you want’ download. They are also doing deals for Facebook ‘likes’ and Tweets. Spread the word people. We must support these acts while we still have them. Enjoy the album.

Official website