THE BOND Beyond Songs & Stories (Sweetly Jangled Recordings)

The Bond seem to be a Northern quartet who, according to the blurb, "have been described as a fusion of modern day composers - a collective of like-minded musicians drawn together as a true family working together to create melodic and memorable music, ignoring the standard formula of the pop song in favour of filmic soundscapes and atmospheres that are far from the daily round." All of which makes "Beyond Songs & Stories" one of the more bizarre and uncategorisable CDs I’ve been sent to review in some time.

This album doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be: it could be a concept album about the decline of industrial England, it has what seem to me to be religious overtones, even the odd slice of poetry. There’s plenty of virtuoso musicianship, particularly Ian Longworth’s harmonica playing and the vocals of one Milla. Longggg multi-part epics snuggle up against Spanish-sounding wordless vocal pieces ("Cancion De Amor") and thumptastic, almost commercial songs ("Forgotten Dream").

For all its enjoyable moments - and there were quite a few when I thought I might’ve at last found a worthy successor to the late lamented genre collision specialists Colourbox - "Beyond Songs & Stories" doesn’t really make it for me because of its unashamed pretentiousness (the poetry! The only band in the history of music who pulled off the poetry/rock fusion with any degree of success was The Moody Blues, The Bond don’t even get close) and the way it doesn’t really know which direction it should be heading. For all that The Bond have created a caringly packaged and produced work that would undoubtedly impress ears more sympathetic than mine.