‘Four Against Fate’
Everything, you all know, is overshadowed today. In our popular culture, very much of how we view the past is highlighted by years and summers that were in some way pivotal to the development of music, fashion, consumption of mood altering substances, politics and public society in general. 1967, 1977, 1989, 1995 are all held to be Watershed Moments in one way or another, and there’s probably also a case to be made for 2003 and the guitar bands it spawned although that isn’t far enough in the past for anyone to have written any books about it yet.
Obviously, 2020 is going to be remembered for one thing and one thing only. How we wake up from the enforced torpor of viral living might prove itself another of these Watershed Moments as, among other things, bands such as The Nightingales will get to tour their new albums, hopefully sooner rather than later.
About eighteen months on from previous album ‘Perish The Thought’, the twelve tracks of ‘Four Against Fate’ effectively seal the reputation of The Nightingales as one of our greatest present day guitar bands, if that needed sealing. If their 2018 album was a churning blast of stream of conciousness led garage rock, Robert Lloyd and friends have tightened things up a bit in the studio, whether through purpose or the mixing board, and ‘Four Against Fate’ is an altogether more polished artefact than its predecessor.
The double timed rhythmic structures are sharply played as Lloyd’s voice brings an added air of confidence to the proceedings – every word is audible – and the music seems louder without loss of clarity. Continuing their policy of writing actual pop songs and then twisting them into angular shapes, or stringing several songs into one, we get numbers such as the alternately anthemic and shambling ‘Neverender,’ the rockabilly inflected ‘Wicked Winter’, the verging on reverent Fall tribute ‘The End Began Somewhere’ and not that they need to prove that there’s more than one trick up the collective Nightingale sleeve, the thudding psyche rock ‘The Other Side’ which is slightly out of character in as much as it only has a single rhythmic template behind it, although if the next Nightingales album were to take that route it’s beyond question that would work.
Experimentation aside. ‘Four Against Fate’ is a defining Nightingales album and it says much for their commitment that they can keep it challenging and even keep making music at all in the present climate. If the summer of 2020 is going to be remembered for anything, then who wouldn’t prefer that it was when one of the great post-punk bands released their best album to date.