Liz, our friend at Back Street Indie, has once again been scouring the, well, the back streets of Manchester in search of the next big decent band set to take their place in the north west’s proud pop culture heritage.

Nope, nothing familiar about this Manc band

Doyle and the Fourfathers are a band that I stumbled across this week after a recommendation on Back Street Indie’s twitter page. And what a band they are to stumble across. Doyle and the Fourfathers, or D&TF as they are known for short, are a four-piece band from Southampton who managed to captivate me within a few minutes of listening to one of their songs. I clicked on D&TF Facebook band page and found a good selection of their music. The first track I played was ‘The Governor of Giving Up’ and I have to say, I think it is one of the best guitar-based indie songs that I’ve heard in a very long time. I find it really difficult to sum-up my quite varied musical tastes sometimes, but I have a huge passion for British indie guitar based bands of the nineties: it was the soundtrack to my teenage youth and it enthralled me above all other types of music. Something within that genre sparked my imagination and D&TF are definitely influenced by that period. Yet what is really special about them is that they seem to have taken all the best little elements of traditional indie from then ”“ and the past forty years or so before it, added their own extra little nuances and styles and created something blindingly special.

I don’t actually think I can do justice to this band in my humble article, in the same way I felt I couldn’t do justice to Dirty North last week. I feel the best advice I could give would be to actually go and listen to their debut album Man Made ”“ released in March this year ”“ and discover their magical sound for yourself”¦but I’m going to have a go anyway. Their album opens with the engrossing ‘When Will the Children Learn’. It starts off with catchy, quick, upbeat acoustic strumming of guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Ben Clark before the charismatic vocals of lead singer and songwriter William Doyle capture your imagination. Within the first few lines of the song, it is clear he is both a very talented singer and a most intelligent song-crafter. Critics have compared Doyle’s voice to Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy and it is indeed an apt comparison. Yet it’s also got the plain speaking tone of Alex Turner about it alongside the passion and complete uniqueness of singers like Scott Walker and Jarvis Cocker. William Doyle has a very strong individual voice and he delivers the lyrics with flair, panache and flamboyance, indeed in a very Jarvis Cocker type guise. Lyrically, he’s brilliant. He’s a fine musical story-teller with brilliant one-liners that can create a myriad of images and tales and situations in a single moment. It’s intelligent, beautiful and above all, very addictive stuff.

The song ‘When will the Children Learn’ is a good introduction to what this band are all about. The song is full of quirky key changes, catchy guitar riffs underpinned with the brilliant drumming of Alex Urch. The strong bass of Michael Goozee alongside the bands regular use of trumpets, violins, organ and accordion help to create their distinctive sound. The lyrics are very literary ”“ the “I’ve made my bed in many gutters” hints of Mr Wilde and have they seem to have that great, but very difficult knack, of saying so much but very succinctly. The song has an awesome chorus and its pacey urgency makes it an impressive opening.

‘Dark Times, Luminous People’ is traditional indie-pop at its finest. I was transported back to my teenage back street bedroom, circa 1997, jumping around to jingly-jangly guitars. The lyrics are quite Ray Davies-like in this well constructed song; it’s punctuated with many clever little lyrics alongside great guitar riffs. The song is upbeat and gives a simple message about the dark recession-clad time we live in. With this topic, you can either write melancholic ballads about how its all terrible and depressing, which we already know, or, you can take it, put it into a great indie song that says stuff this, we are going to dance around anyway and not let the bad times grind us down ”“ and D&TF definitely do the latter. It’s a great antidote to the daily tales of woe from number ten. It has 60s sounding organs and psychadelia as well as a crescendo ending that’s easy to get lost in. It is a great indie-pop song.

‘Summer Rain’ is unusual in its delivery and reminds me of a lot of those Pulp songs where Jarvis’s musings are delivered in quite an introverted way on stage that is truly show-stopping. On paper, when you look at a lot of Pulp lyrics, they don’t look like they’re going to work. Yet Jarvis’s stunning delivery pulls it off in a way only he could. I’m not sure anyone else could pull off the delivery of ‘Summer Rain’ lyrics in quite the same way Doyle does ”“ it’s really quite special. I haven’t yet seen the band live, but from the clips on YouTube, Doyle looks as if he has that great front-man potential; the kind of “can’t keep you’re eyes off him” quality that all the really great front men have. His voice and delivery are fascinating to observe.

The 60s run throughout the album, but very subtly and in a sophisticated way. A lot of the tracks are quite reminiscent of the best edgier stuff from that era ”“ like the quirkier songs of bands like Manfred Man, The Searchers and Dave Clark Five. The song is the perfect post-breakup cure, again full of good metaphorical one-liners. It’s also got lots of la-la-la’s and ba-da-ba’s at the end to sing along to, which is always a good thing. Both have great pace and rhythm like many an old Bluetones song and its full on feet-stamping, dancing indie at its finest.

‘Shape and Form’ is one of my favourites on the album. Catchy acoustic guitar riffs get it off to a good start but that captivating voice brings it to life so poignantly. It’s a very lyrically smart song; each time I listen to it I think it’s about something different to what I thought it was originally. I’m a big admirer of songs that do that, songs that subvert traditional meanings ”“ alas the very shape and forms of songs ”“ and are full of metaphorical meanings. It’s a bit White Album era Beatles at times ”“ it plays around with sound a lot; it appears to stop dead in the middle but then reignites, loudly and powerfully. It’s a long song at just over six minutes but startlingly beautiful.

There is an impressive sense of evolution throughout this debut album, and the electro indie synths on the album are a genius addition. Very addictive and a good starting point to get into D&TF I feel. ‘Black Battalions’ is a good acoustic little number which is quite dark ”“ a bare your soul kind of record. ‘Saturday Morning’ and ‘You Didn’t Arrive’ are dreamy indie songs that you can imagine singing along to on a hazy summer’s day at a festival.

The band have developed a loyal following and there are many great live reviews for this band on the web, most notably from their support slot on The Undertones recent tour. The group have also been championed by Marc Riley on BBC6 Music, having played live “in session” slots on the show. After seeking out the music of this band this week, I’m truly excited about them and what they can achieve. I think it’s only a matter of time before people are shouting their names very loudly”¦

Doyle and the Fourfathers are live at Dry Bar in Manchester on 25th November 2011.

Further information about the band can be found here.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Have been travelling around the country to see these guys play live since early 2010. Absolutely superb live band who have never failed to fully justify all the hours spent on trains and nights spent in B&Bs and Travelodges. Great lads too – really can’t recommend strongly enough.

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