Thursday, May 30 2024

Northern Captives have been causing quite a stir in their relatively short existence. Featured on BBC Radio 1’s ‘Future Alternative’ and BBC Lincolnshire ‘Introducing’ as ‘Record of the Week,’ amongst some of the notable attention they have thus far garnered. It’s easy to understand why. Their well-crafted Indie Rock is polished and pleasing on the ear.

New single, ‘Living In-Between’, taken from their debut album, ‘Dizzy,’ is immediately worthy of gracing commercial radio and is the kind of bass driven, dynamic shifting song that will appeal to all. It’s simply captivating and much of this is rooted in vocalist and guitarist, Sam Cook’s emotive vocal delivery and range. 

Whimsical, almost Morrisey-esque phrasing over the verses, using a controlled head voice are beautifully complimented by a lower chest voice over the bridges, giving a rich vibrance and depth. The balance is superb and the percussive, accented nature of the drums, and almost staccato bass, allow for the impact of the chorus to be huge. On its first pass, it carries weight, as a teaser, but when it’s re-introduced after the second bridge section, the impact is almost monolithic, anthemic, no less. 

Sam’s soaring upper register heightens the impact of the chorus sections, and the pulsating driving rhythms give huge impetus. Stylistically, there is an air of Robert Smith in the chorus vocal delivery, but nothing so much as to sound derivative. It’s more the melodic contour falls of the final syllable’s which radiate with a semi-gothic timbre. But the crispness and power are all his own. 

Structurally, this extended Rondo format benefits from superb dynamic shifts and a mid-section that builds after the chorus, before breaking down to bass and percussion. This then builds well and explodes into the final chorus, which takes us crashing headlong to the end. It’s a fantastic end to an infinitely catchy, melodic and well written song, that screams ‘hit repeat’ time and again.

Thematically the narrative is reflected to good effect by the changing dynamics; ‘Living In-Between,’ a disconnected and frustrated refrain echoing the often-helpless nature of those living with neurodivergent conditions. It’s not clumsy. It’s not brass, nor is virtue flagging; it’s a sympathetic and empathic viewpoint, delivered with touching honesty.

The production is slick with good separation, tonal variation and above all else, balance! The guitars, when clean, cut through and when distorted sit together perfectly. Both bass and drums are tight, with the bass in particular, what I’d describe as ‘tonally full’; not muddy and flat, but with enough mid to offer a clean, cutting tone, that drives the piece along.

Northern Captives may be new, but are comprised of members who have been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. They are a band of great pedigree and will continue to create a buzz by creating beautifully evocative soundscapes, with just the right level of bite.

‘Living In-Between’, is a very good song, from a very talented band with a very bright future. The album will be unmissable and is released on the 2nd of May.

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Review

Summary

Emotive and driving Indie-Rock at its anthem best – a band of great pedigree and will continue to create a buzz by creating beautifully evocative soundscapes, with just the right level of bite.
86%
Catchy, Driving, anthem

Rating

Song Quality
Vocal Performance
Lyrics
Instrumentation
Production

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About Author

Gareth Johnston

Gareth Johnston is a Lancashire based musician and producer who studied music at MMU. He is a former reviewer for 'Glitzine' and when not writing for 'The Indie Grid' can be found restoring old furniture whilst listening to obscure alt-rock. He has too many favourite bands to pick one and insists it's easier to pick a favourite child.

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