Youthful London alt-pop rockers, Being There, formed in 2010 while attending university in Manchester. They eventually moved to London, joined the label Young & Lost Club, and spent 2011 touring with Noah & The Whale. On Breaking Away, the four-piece outfit offers a pleasant introduction. Its charm is found in the sound of young musicians finding their voice and identity, much like U2 with Boy.
There’s a pervasive sense of melancholy that’s gleaned through the perspective of songwriters on the cusp of adulthood, looking back at the carefree years of youth. It juxtaposes existing in the present day with looking reflectively backward. Reality is a standstill where nothing much seems to happen; like continuously twirling the handle on a Jack-In-The-Box, but never getting the payoff that sends him hurtling out. The ‘sturm und drang’ related to coming of age is a theme on which Being There comfortably dwells.
In general, the songs tend to gravitate into two distinct groupings: pleasing, rather predictable, radio-friendly alt. rock or slower, methodical pieces that are distinctly different and not your typical, alt-pop. The sensation of longing recurs in both groupings, but is far more effectively portrayed in the latter.
Listen: “Tomorrow” (free download)
While a clear split in sound might exist, this debut is dominated by alt-rock burners that favor the mid to late 90’s of the alt rock genre. The three standout and clear radio-friendly tracks are “The Radio,” “Back to the Future,” and “Tomorrow.” All three are well-crafted pop songs that one can imagine seeing live without the let down that occurs when bands transition out of the studio. None are particularly sleek or overly produced, and sound refreshingly clean (minus the well-used echo).
Watch: “Back to the Future”
Slower and more atmospheric songs offer something interesting and unexpected. The excellent “Allen Ginsberg” sets the standard for the recurring theme of longingly looking backward as youth disappears:
Our youth was beautiful, more than you care to know.
Like you feel like you’ve been everywhere.
Is there anywhere left to go?
This one’s for the lonely; this one’s for the lights out.
Listen: “Allen Ginsberg”
Also prominent are “Over Me” and “Silent Runners.” The slower tempo of these songs forces restraint, allowing for reflective emoting and thoughtful observation. It’s a strength that lifts it beyond just another LP full of catchy indie pop-rock recordings.
While not quite assured, Being There holds promise and hints at something deeper than standard fare, teen pop angst. Breaking Away will be released in the US on January 29. Get it on iTunes.
Lyrics – 16
Composition – 16
Musicianship – 16
Production – 15
Originality – 7
Intangibles – 7
Overall: 77 (try it)