Title: The Valley
Released: 29 May 2021
2. Nice While It Lasted
3. The Valley
4. Modern Times
6. The Beatles
"Never to be neglectful or be wasteful
Or disdaining, what's familiar?
You are my friends, and I have a feeling
That we're in it for the long run"
While there’s been a lot of traction surrounding many of the bands from the Brixton Windmill scene this year, one group in particular has unfortunately managed to go unnoticed by many. And although it doesn’t help that they’re almost impossible to find through a google search, Famous deserve far more attention than they’ve gotten. Just like how Squid and Black Country, New Road found considerable traction this year with the release of their debut studio albums, Famous will likely gain a bigger following over the next few years, but it’s a genuine tragedy that they haven’t managed to reach a wider audience yet. Their debut EP from 2019, ‘England’, was great, but with the release of ‘The Valley’ back in May, the band have completely outdone themselves. Almost every single track on here is absolutely fantastic; from the stilted synth-pop opener ‘Stars’, to the monumental ‘Modern Times’, as well as the already iconic closing moments of ‘The Beatles’.
Jack Merrett’s vocals are definitely the most striking aspect of ‘The Valley’, and his strange, yet deeply emotional performances throughout the EP lend a lot of character to the band’s music. Particularly on ‘Modern Times’, he showcases an extremely vast range; from timid, shaky murmurs, to a genuinely staggering intensity throughout it’s final stretch. The instrumental helps to emphasize this too, with the track slowly building from gently plucked, palm muted acoustic guitars, into complete disarray and insanity. The song feels massive, with my only complaint being that it could have easily been expanded into a much longer, more ambitious statement, more along the lines of what Squid did with ‘Narrator’, or Black Country with ‘Sunglasses’. But as it is, this is a breathtaking moment that sits as the centrepiece of the EP, highlighting the band’s huge emotional power, as well as their clear potential for even more extraordinary music in the future.
Other highlights on the EP include the one-two punch of the opening tracks, ‘Stars’, and ‘Nice While It Lasted’. The former is a surprisingly catchy pop song, which balances Merrett’s idiosyncratic vocal style nicely against a beautiful (albeit abrasive) synthy instrumental. The bridge of the track is a particularly fantastic moment, switching its bright mood for a far more dark and intense passage. It’s definitely one of the more accessible songs that the band have released, but it also manages to sound incredibly distinct; the juxtaposition of Merrett’s eccentric vocal mannerisms over a such a fun, pop-oriented instrumental feeling almost anachronistic. This leads perfectly into ‘Nice While It Lasted’; a moodier, rock-oriented track, full of distorted guitars and arpeggiated riffs. Like ‘Stars’, it captures a strange sound that somehow feels nostalgic, yet also completely irregular. This conflict gives the track a slightly sinister, yet also deeply melancholic edge, which is embodied in Merrett’s excellent vocal performance.
Although much of the project sounds quite coarse and unhinged, the band also manage to capture a glimpse of tenderness in the passionate, beautiful concluding track; ‘The Beatles’. While it’s decorated with the same discordant guitar textures from the rest of ‘The Valley’, it’s also led by an absolutely gorgeous piano part, which accompanies Merrett’s intimate vocals perfectly. The breakdown at around 3 minutes is a particularly ecstatic moment, as the drums suddenly shift into a simple rhythm, providing a release of tension that has been building over the entire first half of the track. The band have said that this was the most ambitious thing that they’ve put together so far, and it’s definitely paid off, along with the rest of ‘The Valley’. It’s one of my absolute favourite songs from 2021, and makes me anxious to hear what the band might have up their sleeve in terms of a debut full length album.
‘The Valley’, while not being one of the most high-profile releases of the year, is an incredibly quality EP from an extremely promising up-and-coming band of the 2020s. With a sound as fantastic as this, I have no doubt that Famous will eventually find their namesake over the next few years. Hopefully before long, we’ll be able to hear their first studio album, but until then, don’t wait around without listening to the excellent stuff they’ve already managed to achieve in ‘England’ and ‘The Valley’.
"So run at the speed of light
And try to do good by your life
And try to be honest to yourself
If not to anybody else"
Reviewed By Layton Bryce - 14/07/2021
23/7/21, 9:43 am
such a wonderful, passionate review 🤍
15/7/21, 8:01 am
so proud of u, such a great and succinct review xo
15/7/21, 7:57 am
9/7/21, 11:54 am
what an incredible review!! one of my favourites of the year 🥰💓
5/7/21, 2:29 am
another wonderful review!!! x
3/7/21, 7:03 am
another great review from my favourite music reviewer🤍🤍🤍
3/7/21, 6:48 am
YEEESSSS I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on My Love Is Cool, one of my faves album EVER
3/7/21, 6:46 am
One day I'm gonna have to listen to all these albums because of all these great reviews! Can't wait for a Hamilton or Frozen review...??? 👀👀👀 Maybe a cheeky Bo Burnham review????
1/7/21, 6:42 am
YES!!! COMMENTS AND BACK!!!! HOW DID THIS SMART MAN DO IT???!!!
1/7/21, 6:40 am
yay!! comments are back!! love this review, and you!🤍