ALBUM REVIEW: Declan Welsh and the Decadent West - '2'
Declan Welsh and his band, the Decadent West, have been making a serious impact on the Scottish Alternative scene and beyond, delivering strident messages of anti-intolerance and anti-establishment in tightly constructed Indie Rock passages. Their erudite, passionate frontman prevents them from being lumped in with the avalanche of new underground bands; and with their new album '2', the unit continue their poetic sense of drive with gusto.
Photo Credit: Graham Noble
Opening with the shimmering ‘Mercy’, the record bursts into life instantly. It’s a cavalcade of potent guitars and wordless communal chants that seems to embody the album’s desire for inclusivity. Single ‘King of My Head’ slows the pace down to a sultry shuffle, but leaves the vertigo-inducing scale of the LP’s expansive sound palette in its whirl of darting backing vocals and gnawing synth agitations. It’s coupled with a resolutely self-assured lyric claiming ownership of one’s own mind in spite of external corruption trying to seize it.
‘Come Outside’ picks up the previous song’s thread concerning the rush of information overload in modern society. Fortunately, a turn for the psychedelic on the production end separates it from its predecessor, waterfalls of phased vocal effects bleeding into the sunburned lead riff. ‘OK Now’ is more unassuming, grafting elements of the prior songs together, building to an ominous synth-led crescendo.
Another single, ‘I Don’t Know Why’, makes up for it: a clipped rhythm track gives way to a siren-call keyboard riff, and easily the LP’s catchiest chorus. All this juxtaposes its lyrical insecurities, although they choose to avoid the trap of well-worn nihilism by deciding to still hold a semblance of hope by the song’s close.
Internal insecurities rear their head again in ‘First to Know’, as Welsh espouses his momentary lapses in romantic judgement over a lackadaisical, choppy instrumental. ‘Doing Great’ touches those beats once again, syrupy synchronised vocal / keyboard motifs recalling some of the more recent Gorillaz tracks. ‘100 to 1 (Saturday Night)’ switches narrative perspective, being a character portrait of Donnie, a man recounting on his death-bed his life of unfulfilling excess. The bludgeoning drum distortion only intensifies the savage grip this cycle of violence has on him.
In a comical twist on the album’s broadly political subject matter, ‘Hardly News’ isn’t about the woes of the mainstream media: instead, it’s an accentuation of devotion towards a significant other.
By contrast, closer ‘The Comedian’ is a textured, ambitious finish that climaxes in a shoegaze-inflected wall of noise. Lyrically painting a picture of waking up to the world’s glaring faults, it punctuates an impressive, fully-realised album with another astute criticism of our degrading society.
'2' is out on October 27th and is available to pre-order here.