It’s hard not to resort to hyperbole when you come across a debut like ‘Colosseum’ from Coventry band The Institutes. You cannot help but hear in the DNA of this album the freakish brilliance of outrageous debuts from giants in the past: The Las, Stone Roses and The Smiths to name a few outstanding examples. ‘Colosseum’ has a right to be considered in the same glow, and, in the process, is no pastiche or carbon copy of the influences it shows.
The delivery of a close to perfect guitar-based form of pure indie pop by The Institutes is astonishing, but has been heralded by a series of singles released over the past year that have served notice that this is a special band and that ‘Colosseum’ would be something extraordinary. What was promised has been delivered.
The common threads throughout this magnificent album are the celestial choruses, anthemic and bold, the jangling, shimmering guitars and the sweetest melodies delivering romantic intelligent lyrics.
Opening track ‘All That You’ll Ever Know’ is a thumping introduction: crystal, jangling guitars introducing a pounding anthemic delight complete with glorious harmonies. This is a band filled with confidence and creativity: able to create spine-tingling and euphoric songs:
In a sense, this bravado and arrogance creates a complete band from the start: pure style and attitude, essential ingredients for any rock band.
‘Alleyways’ is a shoegaze blitz: yearning vocals and indelible melodies. Again, the harmonies make this band stand out: layers upon layers of exquisite vocals creating a wall of sound that pounds inexorably onwards with purpose and style.
‘Something Beautiful’, a recent single, pounds like waves on the shore: squawling guitars and it filled with a burning yearning sense. Vocalist Reid Zappa Currie says of the track:
‘Something Beautiful’ is a song about passionate unconditional love for something or someone, without any choice, no matter what they put you through, no matter what they think of you or what they give in return. Love-Hate relationships, addictions anything that might be a burden of love, a commitment of passion and pain.
The band’s romanticism is eloquent and heart breaking:
Maybe we can try and make it, we can work it out
Maybe we can try and fix it, we can tape it up
Breathing under water, trying to swim about, in a dream it felt
Trying to sail the river without a paddle now
I don’t think that love belongs to you
I thought we had something beautiful
The quieter, relatively more restrained side of The Institutes emerges in ‘Inside Out’: beautiful anthemic melodies ring out on an acoustic base. ‘Caught in a Dream’ has scything guitars drifting over a dream pop undertow that brings to mind The Doves with its multi-layered platform and motorik beat matched with a degree of melancholia and psychedelia.
The insistent beat of ‘Feels Like It’s Raining Again’ and ‘No Fear’ have the swirling colours of The Stone Roses mixed in with the pop sensibilities of contemporary bands like DMA’s.
The deep romanticism of The Institutes shines through in ‘I Just Can’t Keep Myself from Loving You’ with its achingly beautiful melodies and sense of yearning. You could mark The Institutes under ‘anthemic’ in the dictionary, such is their perfect delivery and cinematic reach.
Sky-high choruses, a crescendo of shimmering guitars and a sense of confidence and bravado epitomise ‘Heal in Time’. Intelligent lyrics reflecting a senses of resilience and optimism, the shard-like guitars and the dream-like yearning vocals amount to an epic three minutes of pure indie gold.
On the back of my hand there’s a note that I wrote
Now it’s all washed away in the winters rain
How can I believe when I cannot feel now?
If I close my eyes will it still be real
Every single time I get knocked down
And I just can’t seem to get up
I just can’t seem, no I just can’t seem to get up
This will all heal in time
But it’s fading away
Recalling to some extent the euphoric rush of The Las, the heartbeat of The Stone Roses and the melodies of The Lightning Seeds, ‘Heal in Time’ is a pulse-racing thrill from beginning to end with its layered harmonies and epic sense of passion and emotion.
‘Colosseum’ is a magnificent edifice of gold. It harks back to the golden age of guitars way back to the eighties and the nineties – The Las, The Smiths, The Stone Roses through to The Doves and Elbow: a sort of indie classicism replete with shimmering guitars, celestial melodies and an appreciation for the finer delicacies of pop music. This is a glorious debut. At times mesmerising and transfixing, and other times energising and euphoric: the result is something quite magnificent.
The album takes its name from the legendary Coventry nightclub, The Colosseum, inspired by the timeless capacity of such colosseums in small towns and big cities everywhere, to create interactions which evolve into life changing experiences and events.
Out today (Friday, 15 October) through 42’s Records and available in a variety of formats, you can pre save the album through the link below or here. You can even obtain a copy with band commentary on each track.
The Institutes are on tour:
Thu 30th Oct – LONDON, Camden, The Good MIxer
Fri 1st Oct – BIRMINGHAM, Moseley, The Dark Horse
Sat 2nd Oct, LIVERPOOL, Sound City, EBGB’s (2pm)
Thu 14 th Oct, LONDON, New Cross, Amersham arms
Sat 23rd Oct, MANCHESTER, Off The Square
Sat 13th Nov, BIRMINGHAM, Academy 3
Sat 11th Dec -HIGH WYCOMBE Bucks Uni Students Union, Speakeasy Magazine event
Sat 18th Dec, COVENTRY, Square One
The Institutes are:
Reid Zappa Currie – Vocals, Guitar
Andy Hall – Guitar , Backing Vocals
Kirk Savage – Drums
Andy Lowe – Bass
Feature Photograph: Debbie Ellis