Not for the first time in as many reviews have we had cause to recall the Earlies, but it has to be said that there’s a maturity and a subtle song craft majesty attaching to the sound of Vukovar and while we here are a little cautious to cause swelling of heads when describing a band still in its relative infancy, they are it has to be said, the jewel in the Small Bear records crown. An album (‘Emperor’) under their belt which immediately endeared itself to us to such an extent it made our top 3 list of last year not to mention the release of one of the finest debuting singles (‘new world order’) we’ve had the pleasure of hearing in a long while, the band are currently applying the finishing coat to their much anticipated second full length – ‘Voyeurism’. By way of a taster ‘the blood garden’ has been sent ahead to cause swoon action amid the record shop aisles, an event which is these days becoming something a label family affair given in house mates Postcode are duly present in the mix. But hang on, the Earlies, sounds a bit wintry, a vibe that hints of yuletide campfires – perhaps it’s the hymnal chorals – are we pitching this in the right season we wonder. But then ‘the blood garden’ is a curious outing, sure enough its immediate but similarly it’s a slow burner, a song for all seasons, a love song that arcs perfectly between restraint and intensity, possessed of a myriad of reference markers most notably the Dream Academy and the Wedding Present (that’ll be the Weddoes doing their own take on the Dream Academy – in all their full frenzied glory) not to mention a cameo from the Bunnymen upon which they throw in everything including not so much the kitchen sink but a ringing telephone. All said though as is the case with these things the ear hugging sore thumbs are to be found on the flip side with the appearance of two radically reworked versions of ‘Ms Kuroda’s lament’ – the former subtitled ‘the sailor’ mix is sparsely bedded upon a strobe pulsar motoric grooving giving it  a starry psych haloing much likening of that of a youthful Echoboy while elsewhere a blistering post everything live rendition ripped from a recent Glasgow set finds the trio veering ever so closely into the hallowed territories of Joy Division.


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