By Ritchie Birnie, pics © The Temperance Movement
I am very protective of The Temperance Movement (TTM), I class these boys as one of my own – even though it is only Phil (Campbell, lead vocalist) who is Scottish. I have watched this band go from strength to strength and although this has meant the amount they visit Glasgow for gigs has dropped from about three times a year to basically an annual show, it is something I will never bemoan as the whole world now gets to see the talent contained with the ranks.
The protective part of me kicked in last year as we started to see a few cracks in the band, with problems rearing their head through member changes. Nobody likes to see people leaving, seeing a band’s make up shifting, not knowing how it will be or how it will play out on a stage. This part I am still struggling with, but like the band I will see it through, I will always give them my honest opinions and I will always be at the show every time they play my city.
We also now hear that Phil has been fighting his own demons and drug abuse. Now weed may very well be seen as the lighter end of the whacked out spectrum, but it has obviously put pressure on a band trying to keep the wheels on through all the changes – so hats off to Phil for grabbing the issue by the throat and seeing the band comes first. It does leave one very large and perplexing question though…where did the man get the energy to dance like that when stoned?
With all these changes an album could be a make or break for a band, slotting in new members, writing and recording so with A Deeper Cut a lot hangs in the balance.
So how does it stack up? For one this is a more mellow album, more mature, showcasing a band who know how to write a damned good tune taking everything in its stride and saying fuck you, we got this shit tied down like a dominatrix.
It opens with a click on guitar that can only be described as classic TTM, Caught In The Middle is a well-chosen opener given the changes that this album has in store for you. It’s an up tempo number that sees the boys on fire. I know right now just how bad Phil’s dancing will be live to this song, and exactly how amazing it will sound on a stage!
Built In forgetter may not grab you as a song title but Phil’s spat out vocals will. The man always sounds as if he is having a ball and this has that staccato TTM sound and it throws a new silly phrase to sing out loud in “sugar lump”. It is songs like these that the phrase ‘feel good music’ was invented for. Two songs in and the feet have not stopped tapping.
With Love and Devotion we get the groove on. This band can get any crowd going and they can wander over many a genre, hence their popularity. This is rock at its tastiest, classic and ass swaying.
The title track just throws TTM’s back catalogue into the bin. This is a beautiful song, filled with emotion, slowed down with blues and a tanker full of soul. When these boys slow down a song you know it is going to be special and boy is it. I never thought they would top my personal favourite, Only Friend, but this song is very special indeed, as it slips away with a choir-esque finish building it has just taken the number one spot.
The tempo is back up, and the silly lyrics return with I will give you all the tea in China on a song called Backwater Zoo… but this is where TTM stand alone, the varied songs, the quirky lyrics, making a ballad full of fun. This is why I love them.
Another Spiral is another heart tugger, from the moment that bluesy guitar kicks in, through Phil’s vocals portraying loss and depression and turning it into a masterpiece. A beautiful song taking problems and turning them to majesty.
Beast Nation almost starts like Spirit in the Sky and the distorted guitar is immense. Phil’s almost reggae vocals twist and turn to tell a story, another slow, sultry and damned sexy song…there will be many a baby conceived to this amazing track.
Another brilliant trick TTM pull off is to have you guessing which decade the next song will sound like and The Way It Was is steeped heavily in the 70s. This is a Faces sound without a doubt and a sound that the band were born to play.
It is at this point I realise how chilled out this album is, after the opening couple of tracks it has taken a back step but that gives you every chance to dive in and appreciate just how good this band is. In Higher than the Sun we have a stoned out vibe, but we also have a band firing on every musical cylinder, the guitars are immense, the drums are crystal clear and the bass is pitched perfect, another lazy-assed belter.
Children may not be something you relate ‘calm’ to, but this song has Phil breaking his heart and opening his soul to the world. Although musically it is very different, it reminded me of the Eagles – a band that steered me onto the musical path I followed throughout my life – and this song almost matches my life from when I was a child, through my 20s when I was immersed in music and the decade I had three children to today when I can look back and see what life has taught me, where I went wrong and how I am calm and happy with every day.
To follow on from my last comment the song There’s Still Time bursts forth and if there was any negativity in me I can see there is always time to change, always time to love, always time to reach out and always time to appreciate each and everything in our life. This song tells all those stories and this will be many a couples Our Song and I can see why, another beautiful song of many layers and textures.
From looking forward we look back on The Wonder We’ve Seen. Phil is right at the top of his vocal range but man can he sing! He can wring any emotion out of you with ease. Something I can testify to as I saw him do an acoustic set of his original solo songs in a church in Glasgow last year and that’s a night I will never forget as I got to see the man before the band, the songs before TTM and I saw him take all those gigs under his belt and perform like I have never seen him perform before.
A Deeper Cut does what it says on the tin, it strips back The Temperance Movement to it’s core…and I loved every story that it contains, I fell in love with the band all over again. This will cement the band’s reputation as far as the fans are concerned, but it will bring a whole host of new fans to the table. This is the album that will break the band to huge heights and it is worth every ounce of pain these band members have gone through as I felt every tear, every fight, every hushed silence of the last year and the sacrifice will pay dividends.
A Deeper Cut is released 16th February 2018 via Earache Records. Get pre-order links here.