With those whispers of The Sundays making a long-awaited return yet to reach fruition, the door is left open for other bands with a penchant for jangly guitars and vulnerable female vocals to make their mark. Step forward then, The Bronze from York, with their very accomplished debut album.
Chris Bilton’s relaxed, opening strums and frontwoman Holly Taymar’s aching tones on ‘Gun To The Floor’ immediately point to where the story ended for The Sundays last time and the first three songs in particular, could feasibly be lost tracks from that group’s ‘Static And Silence’ album. Mirroring that record’s understated nature too, Taymer and Bilton never consistently raise the urgency and intensity. Instead they appear to be content to quietly strum and coo away pleasantly; too much so for the pretty but insubstantial ‘Half Life’.
Yet it would be a severe oversight to focus solely on these inevitable comparisons, even if they are favourable. As it happens, The Bronze hit their best form when they branch out to form their own sound for the hushed romanticism of ‘Not Just For The Day’, the languid melancholy of ‘Shadows In Time’ or on ‘Next Week’, where they compliment lyrics of struggle (“I have been fighting with a wall of conscience”) with a more muscular arrangement to create a surprisingly tough centrepiece. When the two protagonists team up their vocals on ‘This Life Is Yours’, they recreate some lovely harmonies which make you wonder why they don’t do this more often and the intimacy of the final two songs (‘New Year’ and ‘Hush’) are further defining moments on a strong second half.
There’ll never be a shortage of sensitive folk/indie bands but The Bronze tug on the ears and the heartstrings more insistently than most of their rivals and the fact that they sit comfortably between the aforementioned The Sundays and Nottingham’s Lorna is a testament to the quality of their songwriting. So in the grand scheme of things, The Bronze aren’t quite deserving of the top prize, but they certainly deserve their place on the podium.
The Sundays, Lorna