It's official, nu-folk has arrived. Yep, that's right, Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park are now seen as dinosaurs of a forgotten era, with the new, (or nu-) kids on the block eschewing the screeching and sleeve tattoos of nu-metal for the banjos and baggy jumpers of folk. Like a steadily growing, extended family from the Appalachian mountains, the darlings of the folk scene have been interbreeding in each others bands for some time now and are no longer hovering on the fringes of society but taking the world by storm, or at least a mild cloud gathering.
The October Game are not quite folk, as their beefy bass lines and fuzzed-up licks would see them carefully ejected out of any Mumford and Sons afternoon tea party, yet they are not far off nu-folk, with 'story-telling' chord progressions supporting emotive lyrics, sung in colloquial accents that show no signs of becoming American-ized any time soon. After an atmospheric intro that borrows a little too heavily from Aerosmith's 'Don't Want To Miss A Thing', the first single 'Greenbacks' kicks in with some doubled up acoustic and reverb-heavy guitar action, before a syncopated vocal line delicately treads its way through the ambient noise beneath. There are echoes of early-era Elbow here, which shows that these boys have been doing their homework, although it would be wise for The October Game to remember that Elbow didn't get any commercial recognition until a decade after they had formed, so perhaps a few more anthemic string sections and Garvey-esque 'artiste' stubble should be considered if they want to become Mercury-nominated contenders...
'Concrete (When We Were Invincible)'s' military tattoo adds more depth to the poppier elements of this delightful but ultimately forgetful ditty; heavier production could have brought something really interesting out of this number, a song thats plaintive verse does not do justice to its 'call to arms' chorus and coda. 'Boxing Underwater' is both hypnotising and encapsulating with its stumbling, delayed instrumental effects, drums tinkering in the distance, with all the quiet majesty of its chorus delicately counterbalancing the stuttering of the instruments beneath it.
Singer Luke Williams' Bedfordshire 'born and bred' accent does start to grate after a while, (not least in the 8 minute opus that is 'Something Wrong', a song that could easily be cut in half and have the same impact); however, the sparse arrangement of the songs with plenty of instrumental breaks and interludes provides pleasant respite from a voice that seems more used to questioning the price of ale than to crooning alt. rock melodies.
It's certainly not a singles album, but more of a 'grower'; with none of the 'proper' songs clocking in at under four minutes, it's certainly a case of endurance over indulgence, a, “tracheotomy over a crossword”, to misquote Jeremy from Peep Show. Unfortunately, in relation to the current folk-rock revival's landcape, The October Game are still sub-Midlake, (anyone else find it really annoying that a band of Americans are doing English music better than most English bands?); however, with a little more vocal innovation and a more liberal use of the edit button, The October Game could yet become a name to remember.