Admiral Fallow spent two and a half years crafting the songs that made up their debut album Boots Met My Face before committing them to the tape, part of a slow-burning process that saw the record released twice before it truly began to earn the recognition its intricate beauty deserved. In contrast, frontman Louis Abbott has admitted he had only the bare bones of five or six tracks when they headed to the studio to record follow-up Tree Bursts In Snow.
Cue warning about that ‘difficult’ second album, right? Wrong. As opener ‘Tree Bursts’ gradually builds from Sarah Hayes’ delicate vocals into something approaching the anthemic, it becomes immediately apparent that this record is going to soar. With the confidence Boots‘ critical acclaim affords them, the Fallow have taken the basic template of their debut album and run with it.
New dimensions are brought to their already lush instrumentation with Hayes adding an accordian to her reportoire while the songs are bolder, while sticking to the band’s philosophy that saying something in a whisper can be just as strong as shouting.
At first glance, the title of this second record may seem far less violent than their debut, but Abbott explained Tree Bursts In Snow actually refers to “the sound and the image of an artillery shell exploding into a cluster of snow-drenched trees,” and that speaks to the undercurrent of tension in these songs that gives them an added urgency. The lyrical themes are less personal than its predecessor but there’s still a chip on the shoulder and a score to be settled running deep here.
Occasionally the pressure boils over, like when ‘The Paper Trench’ opens with buzz-sawing guitars, but this is an album that can flit between raging anger and the happy-clappy sounds of ‘Isn’t This World Enough??’ without skipping a beat. It’s an album that soundtracks a band growing into themselves.