Follow The Lion are a five piece indie-rock band from Leeds whose debut EP is comprised of three finely crafted indie-rock tunes; each of these three numbers bring out the best in most of the band members – particularly vocalist Daniel Francis and lead guitarist Richard Swann. Prior to ‘The Candy & Gravity Motel’s release, the band found an early champion in the legendary Tom Robinson, who gave exposure to the title cut on his BBC Radio 6 show…and it’s very easy to see why, since these three songs are absolutely tailor-made for rock-based radio. That’s “tailor-made”, as opposed to manufactured, since FTL have a very natural style – there’s nothing here to ever make you think they’d been moulded by the media in any way.
From the beginning of ‘Down By The River’, the guitars assert their presence; loud and melodic but never heavy – the rhythms are of key importance throughout particularly with their sharp jangling tones, but there are a few moments where Swann’s lead breaks free. The first of these brilliant moments happens almost instantly with a ringing sound crashing over everything, instantly commanding attention. Dropping back into a quieter verse, it’s time for the vocals to make their mark – and here it’s a case of make or break, since the vocals often have a lower key almost grumbling nature which you’ll either love or hate. By the time the chorus rolls around, it’s clear these guys know a radio-friendly hook – borrowing a sound from the likes of Snow Patrol et al, there’s an accessible edge to match the guitars. A good start, but the two tracks which follow place FTL in a much stronger musical position.
Having already gained radio play in the UK, ‘Candy & Gravity’ is even more melodic, working a waltzing riff around a solid drum line and clean, jangly guitars. Over the solid framework, the lead guitars cry with a high, crisp tone while Francis’s lead vocals provide a contrast with a deep Eddie Vedder/Ben Ottewell-esque gravel tone on the verses before reaching for higher notes by the time the chorus rolls around. This is a number that truly builds as it goes, by the close of the final chorus, the guitars are multi-tracked to create a huge sound, the vocals swell to match, all the while the original waltz holding firm beneath. Last up, ‘Low’ is perhaps the number which shows the band’s breadth of sounds at their most expansive, as well as proving Francis’s vocal range. At the beginning of this particular number, he sounds a little unsure – coy even, with a passing resemblance to The Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan in his understated way – but eventually he adopts a very natural voice, much like that of ‘Down By The River’, peaking with some huge notes near the track’s end. The rest of the band step up too. During the loudest moments of this number, Danny Jay Barnett smashes his kit in a fashion not always associated with the sounds here, while keyboard man Paul Smith steps out of the shadows to add flourishes akin to piano-based bands like The Fray. Swann, meanwhile – already having played a superb role on each of these songs and increasing his general volume here- brings this to a classy finish by dropping in a selection of muted and staccato notes. A very nice touch, indeed.
These three tunes have just the right balance between guitar driven chops, radio friendly jangle and big hooks. Looking for somewhere to go after you’ve grown tired of that Snow Patrol disc? Follow The Lion are on hand to bring musical salvation.