The Climbers debut album The Good Ship has been a few years in the making. Turns out it was definitely worth it though. This album is a joyous collection of songs covering a whole lot of ground and demonstrating a rare and wonderful talent for composition and song craft.
Full-time Climbers are Tim West, Christian Hardy and Nick Hemming but with Christian and Nick also releasing music as The Leisure Society, The Climbers have been recording in fits and starts over a period of six years.
Recorded predominantly in hired cottages in Wales and Devon, The Good Ship, as the band explain on their MySpace, was about wanting to capture the sounds of houses packed with friends just making music, as it happened. This provides a truly refreshing change from the barrage of over-produced, auto-tuned nonsense that seems to be endemic at the moment.
Second track ‘Anything’ works as a good introduction to The Climbers’ sound, demonstrating at once some truly beautiful instrumentation and yet an impression of simplicity. The pretty guitar strumming, piano, and organ is reminiscent of some prime Eels territory - even a bit of Counting Crows is conjured up in the fingerpicked banjo, which becomes somewhat of a motif throughout the album. Tim West’s tones rattle though the chorus: “I call on my brothers,” and after strings kick in what appears to have been a simple and melancholic song at the start is lifted up to being something quite impressive.
It seems then, that The Climbers are about a really full-bodied sound and that probably comes from the 19 friends they list as part-time band members on their MySpace. Mouth organs, strings, trumpets, electric guitars, banjos and a choir of voices frequently come together to lend an anthemic slant to many of the songs on The Good Ship.
In fact the title track is a great example of this, the oomp-pah-pah style piano riff and "la la las" will make you sway - by the time by the time the dramatic “You won’t sink the good ship” refrain comes in you’ll be a fully paid-up member of The Climbers crew.
The folk influence is also pretty apparent throughout so any music fans that have been enjoying the banjo touting Mumford and Sons and other anti-folk outfits would do well to give The Climbers a listen.
Lending the album some proper country influences ‘I Will Never’ is a banjo and guitar-led ditty with an almost Grizzly Bear vibe in places. But what really makes this album stand out is the voices - coming together so seamlessly that they add an extra bit of magic to each and every track. Perhaps it is unsurprising though, that this is a band which sounds almost perfect – it’s those six years of being together before releasing a debut that has done it.
Published over at The 405.