The Left Outsides
The Shape Of Things To Come
Key Tracks: 'Deep Rivers Move In Silence,' 'Out Of Time, Out Of Place,' and 'The Third Light'
The Left Outsides is a English duo that plays music worthy of charming snakes into submission. The band is comprised of husband Mark Nicholas and wife Alison Cotton. The Shape Of Things To Come features songs with tranquil qualities and their own shock value. Rich acoustic guitars, violas and harmonious vocal deliveries keep the music serene, but the pacing and approach add a quasi-psychedelic attitude.
Folk has always been an interesting genre. It has made its humble appearance in the likes of metal and rap and has been crossed over into the stoner/psychedelic rock a few times. Woods is a band I am familiar with that has a similar acid tripped feeling when listening to music akin to what is covered on The Shape Of Things To Come. Their attitude can be heard on ‘Unopened Letters And Unanswered Phone Calls’ where Cotton sings, “Don’t bother with introductions.” The twangy guitars are matched with a monotonous vocal delivery, adding winding drums to create the loopy psych feeling. Both ‘Stargazer’ and ‘Stargazer (Reprise)’ sonically embrace a movie score, with moaning strings enveloping a melancholy mood and weaving about the mix for about a minute each. It’s this kind of attention to feeling the instruments that helps The Left Outsides develop a urgent reason to be heard. Take ‘Out Of Time, Out Of Place’ as an example. The drums dance behind Cotton’s mesmerizing voice, keeping an upbeat pace the entire two minutes.
Opening track ‘The Third Light’ sounds mysterious, just like the band’s album cover. It welcomes listeners in even when they do not know what to expect. Warm melodies are mixed with Nicholas’ mournful vocals, wishing to be found again. ‘Through The Keyhole’ seems to represent Cotton’s version of the above mentioned track, with the same lonely, wandering, searching to be found tone. “Through the keyhole is the secret of my dreams,” admits Cotton in a sorrowful trance. Closing and title track ‘The Shape Of Things To Come’ is an expansive piece that drones with the same peaceful pattern, giving off a sense of wisdom on knowing where a person is placed in their life.
‘Deep Rivers Move In Silence, Shallow Brooks Are Noisy’ is the highlight of the album. For the first three and a half minutes the song is the quietest of the record. Cotton almost is singing without the monotone, with her voice warming the dark notes picked by the guitar. It’s as if this tune was an old Folk lullaby being embraced by a couple lulling their audience to a comforting place. The vocal harmonies added by Nicholas add to the rich feel of the song, with each verse growing in instruments, finally building up to a rather explosive outro. The drums have an extra added weight to them, with high and tight distortion adding to the syncopated effect.
The Shape Of things To Come is a rolling album full of melodious ways to gather a listener’s attention in some way or another. Thirteen eerie tunes clock in at 48 minutes, meaning there is a lot to dive into. For fans of folk, there should be no problem in finding a deep connection to this album. Every turn and graceful dive The Left Outsides take in their track is precise and conducted with sonically rich wisdom.