“I miss my old life, but I hate it all the same,” goes the opening line to the title track of The Buffalo Riot’s brand new album, ‘Pale Blue Oceans’. Our Beach Boy-aping headline is a hint to their sound: the harmonies are sun-drenched and devastating. But those who remember the band for their rocking alt-country beginnings could be in for a shock: there’s something else very deliberate happening here. By Alan O’Hare.

The War On Drugs have a lot to answer for. Turn up the reverb, get the drummer to beat like he plays with The Boss in 1984 and add a synth sound or textured guitar lick or two and there you have it: instant classic radio friendly rock. The truth is a little bit different, of course. As are The Buffalo Riot.

Great songs can survive most production tricks, but good songs… they need a little more attention to detail. And The Buffalo Riot have crafted a record of eight very good songs that sound mega and are the real deal. These are big tunes drenched in attention to detail, with the harmonies front and centre to prove it.

Singers Ben Singleton and Iain Morley were born to sing together. We’re not sure if they’re related… but they should be. We were floored by a recent acoustic session they shared from this year’s Liverpool Acoustic Festival. But, repeated listening to the band’s latest album, the just-released ‘Pale Blue Oceans’, should have prepared us: the highlights of the disc, and there are many, constantly revolve around the sound of their two voices singing together. They’re not a one trick pony, though. Far from it…

Opener ‘Hands Full Of Rain’ is classic Scouse indie rock, the finger-picked ‘Rachel I’m Sorry’ comes on like Kurt Vile with access to the concision switch and the waltz-time ‘Water In Your Blood’ is an atmospheric lament complete with Wings-esque keyboard (or is that a guitar?) flourish. Wings might be a reference point here – but with Macca on guitar, not bass. There’s nothing twee about The Buffalo Riot, they deal in six string soundscapes that demand attention: you won’t be on your phone when this lot play live.

Sure, they’ve been around for a little while and have gained a cult following, but ‘Pale Blue Oceans’ feels like a dividing line for the band. Gone are the modern sounds in country and western and in their place come epic guitars, not-so-subtle production choices and sky-scraping chorus harmonies (watch the video for ‘Something To Believe In’ below). The stately title track is one of the best we’ve heard this year, too.

Is this their time? Well, the aforementioned The War On Drugs have signed with a major for their next album and the industry will fall in line for records that sound like ‘Pale Blue Oceans’ should Adam Granduciel deliver the goods and sell as many records next time. That’s conjecture, for now, though. Here’s a fact: it doesn’t matter to us if it’s The Buffalo Riot’s time or not, they’re a group who have just delivered something particularly timeless…

The Buffalo Riot
‘Pale Blue Oceans’
Out now

Pic courtesy Iain Morley



1 comment

Bob jones
June 15, 2016 Reply
We no what happend along tIme ago when a top music company turned down a certain band from lIverpool .these lads are great song wRiters and will go froM strengTh to strength. Keep rocking them boys.