JULY ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Whilst this album landed a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to wait to see the band perform at Wildfire at the end of June before taking a final view on the album.
Why? Over a three-day weekend, many of the finest emerging acts from a new generation of British rock were crammed into the bill for Wildfire Festival and it presented an opportunity to see Theia’s new body of work in a truly relative context.
Their show did not disappoint. In fact, it sparkled and their new material arrested attention. A number of festival-goers I spoke to that were new to Theia mentioned the band as one of their unexpected highlights of the weekend. And passing the CD around a few radio presenters has again drawn positive reaction from people not familiar with the band. On both counts, this is the kind of album that has the potential to appeal far beyond a rock niche. Good albums are good albums whatever the genre – and this is the kind of accessible, direct and fresh album that can serve to introduce young music fans to the world of rock – a new, young and future-looking world of rock. A new generation of rock bands needs to be playing to a new generation of fans and ‘Back in Line’ is the kind of album that can build these bridges.
After the ‘Keezheekoni’ intro, the album kicks into life with ‘My Poison’ and ‘Whiskey Business’ – the latter being the album track I immediately picked for airplay at the end of June: An effortlessly infectious song with sing-along choruses and catchy riffs. A song that makes you react without thinking – and in its essence, a perfect radio song that transcends genre stereotype for rock songs.
A fair dose of dirty blues rock riffs are delivered through ‘Just Go’ and ‘Back In Line’- and ‘Signed Sealed Cemented’ is a great pop rocker with Queen-esque chorus lines one can imagine becoming a firm live favourite for the band’s July and September tour dates.
Despite these middle order tracks, this album is much more than a mere homage to a long-standing blues rock or southern rock tradition, which – in my view – doesn’t always sound authentic or convincing coming from young British bands. The new Theia album has a fresh, young and accessible feel that draws on classic rock roots but references them in a youthful, relevant way.
Also, two tracks towards the end of the album elevate it to a new level – perhaps a shame they don’t appear earlier in the album. In ‘Sparkplug’ we see Theia showing a song craft producing music that could comfortably site alongside indie playlist favourites from the likes of The Verve, Travis, Muse or Oasis. And with ‘Home’ the band demonstrates a talent for melody, intimacy and delicacy that again gives the album a new dimension. These two songs are stereotype-busters – and have potential for broader, mainstream radio appeal beyond classic rock media.
With this new Theia album I can see some parallels to The Texas Flood: Unpretentious songs that directly grab you on a first listen and ooze a live performance feel – delivered by a three-piece that evidences a strong natural chemistry between the members and the ability to write songs that sound young, relevant and fresh. And the vocal performances are crisp, convincing and powerful throughout.
Much has been said about what can be done to help more young British rock bands to break. Too often people talk about gigs, but with this album one is reminded it always has to start with the music – good songs that people will want to listen to, buy, share and talk about. And more important, music that on merit, has the potential to appeal to a broader audience beyond the mature classic rock community. In ‘Back In Line’ we have an album that is not a tribute to yesterday’s classic blues-rock, but a calling card on where young British rock could go – with music fit for a new, young and mainstream audience.
Live from Wildfire: Listen again to my initial radio clip with the band (full interview to follow)
Forthcoming Theia shows:
1st July – Seven Sins Festival, Swansea
15th July – Uttoxeter Rocks, Uttoxeter
21st July – Collop Gate Farm, Rochdale
22nd July – BurtonFest, Burton Upon Trent (afternoon)
22nd July – Sempiternal Warm-up, Cannock (evening)
26th August – Rockwich Unplugged, Northwich
27th August – Giff-fest, Wolverhampton
2nd September – B2, Norwich
3rd September – The Black Heart, London
8th September – The Hut, Corby
9th September – The Station, Cannock
Back In Line – Album (June 2017)
THEIA I – EP (Mar 2013)
THEIA II – EP (Sept 2013)
Take The Pill – Album (Sept 2015)
Kyle Lamley – guitars & vocals
Paul Edwards – bass & vocals
Jake Dalton – drums