Review: Prides – The Way Back Up

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The Way Back Up is oozing with dreamy synth work balanced by catchy lyrics and great vocals, with a few surprises along the way.

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The debut album from Glaswegian trio Prides is finally here. With the album’s lead single, ‘Messiah’ dropping ahead of its release, excitement has been bubbling for the unstoppable force that is the anthemic The Way Back Up.

‘I Should Know Better’ begins the album with punchy beats balanced by Stewart Brock’s consistently brilliant vocals, and a soaring chorus. But Prides do not leave it there. The track is elevated further by its synth counterparts before isolating its vocals, providing an exciting contrast to the anthemic ‘Messiah’. It’s ‘Messiah’ that catapulted Prides into the music world after their performance at 2014’s Commonwealth Closing Ceremony and it remains one of the strongest tracks on the album. ‘Higher Love’ is one of the band’s most recent releases, and its fun opening echoes childhood video game theme tunes.

Prides threaten to “tear it up” in ‘It’s Not Gonna Change’. Its opening’s synth construction reflects CHRVCHES’ work on The Bones Of What You Believe, before it builds to the foot-stomping power found on ‘Messiah’. ‘Out Of The Blue’ enters with a thundering drum, and is one of the catchiest tracks on the album. The band’s strengths lie in their ability to carefully layer repetitive lyrics in their tracks, without making it whiney or dull- which is what works for them on both ‘It’s Not Gonna Change’ and ‘Out Of The Blue’. The album’s title track falls penultimately on the album. Prides sing “We’re closer today and that’s enough”, hailing the album as something of a journey back to the surface. It’s uplifting. Reassuring, even.

Despite the consistent sound of The Way Back Up, there are still a few surprises along the way. ‘Same Mistakes’ is one of these surprises. It shows a softer side to Prides, opening with a carefully picked guitar melody and soothing vocals that showcase their talent behind the electronic work that has made their name. It’s a refreshing the track, providing an interlude from the album’s intensity without being out of place. There’s something beautifully raw about the melancholic ending to the album, too. ‘The Kite String And The Anchor Rope’ takes you by the hand and leads you out with a fading piano melody, making it hard to remember the upbeat excitement of opener ‘I Should Know Better’.

Prides have created something great with The Way Back Up. It’s intense, it’s fun, and it’s full of dreamy synthesisers. If you thought that they would provide an album saturated with anthems like ‘Messiah’, then you were mistaken. This album has diversity, and diversity makes for a winning debut.

The Way Back Up will be released on Friday 10th July via Island Records.

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