There is much to admire about Fossil Collective’s second EP, but truly succumbing to its charms proves a more difficult proposition. The Leeds band were formed from the ashes of Vib Gyor but appear to have little in common with the widely expansive sounds of their previous incarnation, apart from continuing in their ability to draw blankets of sound over their songs into a sumptuous, soothing wrap. This time however, they’ve turned their eyes towards a sketchier, more fragmented folk construct that hints at a self-imposed solitude rather than arms being triumphantly waved towards the sky.
And certainly, the sound of the EP is just the right combination of dark and shadow. The bleak, wintery sound is authentic and enveloping and the minimalism of the playing emphasises the stark vocals. There’s also a nice variation present - the EP seems to be deliberately set out as a taster menu, with each track being specifically chosen for its individuality in relation to its peers. Opener ‘On and On’ gallops along with a driving, cyclical rhythm and swoops of keyboard and vocal harmony – something akin to Thom Yorke fronting Turin Brakes, skirting across a frozen Miike Snow pond. ‘Silent Alarm’ is a sweetly picked acoustic number, yet never quite engaging enough to leave any sort of mark embedded in your brain; appears too indistinct from so many years of acoustic singer-songwriters in dark and smoky bars to overwhelm, though the murmuring wave of discordant discontent that emerges towards the end of the song is welcomingly troubling. And final track ‘Fog’ is similar again – pretty, stormy and heading towards desolate shipwreck, but without the sort of engaging hook, chorus or dynamic change to push it beyond the level of background music. And ultimately, this generally proves the key snag that prevents On & On from progressing in the way you’d wish it to. For all Fossil Collective's talents, that one issue emerges continually during the EP: the frustrating gap between something you can nod passively along to and that choking emotional wonder that grips your throat tightly and forces you to look it squarely in the eye.
At this stage however, that isn’t necessarily a terminal malaise. And certainly, the fraught, frosty and skeletal heartbreak of 'Rivers Edge' is profoundly beautiful and engaging - providing that one moment that convinces you in regard to their possible potential. Fossil Collective are looking in the right direction and finding their feet, but they still have some way to trek along their cold pathways before they reach the summit of their ambitions. Pretty and ethereal this brief collection may be, but there are too many moments here where the music floats by on a winter breeze, rather than truly engaging, stunning and binding you to its heart.
6David Edwards's Score