The Liberty Ship - Tide

matcd029  /  January 2004
The Liberty Ship - Tide
cd   $10.00

digital   $8.00

other digital:   Apple Music     Amazon     Spotify

The Liberty Ship - Tide

matcd029  /  January 2004

Strong debut album from Nottingham, England four piece The Liberty Ship builds on the celebrated "I Guess You Didn't See Her" and "Northern Angel" singles which earned the band rave reviews and comparisons to pop greats The Byrds, East Village, Weather Prophets, The Rain Parade, Go-Betweens, Beachwood Sparks, and Hurrah! The dozen songs on this album feature chiming guitars, brilliant melodies, and catchy choruses that further demonstrate the band's skilled songwriting. Lead vocalist and guitarist Marc Elston was formerly one-half of pop combo Bulldozer Crash, responsible for a clutch of excellent releases on Sunday and Heaven Records in the 1990s. He is joined in The Liberty Ship by Rachel Eyres on vocals and guitar, Tim Wade on bass, and Steve Mietlinski on drums to produce a splendid sound with lovely harmonies. Rachel's lead vocals on three tracks (plus clever use of electronica, tambourines and harmonica) all provide pleasant variety. An impressive debut album from an engaging guitar pop band.

  1. Finer Feelings
  2. Chords Drag You Down
  3. Final Kick
  4. Precious Time
  5. Coast
  6. Cabin Fever
  7. Shine On
  8. Baseball Caps and Novas
  9. I'll Try
  10. Stars Above
  11. Actually
  12. Yuri Gagarin


Being the best band in Nottingham isn't exactly difficult these days (or any day come to that), but The Liberty Ship are just that by a country mile. 'Tide', the band's debut album on Matinée, only confirms this fact once more. It's been a pleasure to have watched The Liberty Ship strut their stuff (in a gentle way of course!) on many a stage over the last two years or so, and so 'Tide' to me, seems like something of a coming of age. Here, at last, after a few false starts, is the the new real Liberty Ship album, complete with Marc Elston's love of both Rickenbacker guitars and analogue synths...and more importantly, great pop music. Which is amply shown on the first great track here. 'Chords Drag You Down' is a tense yet fragile little bugger, with Marc's voice brilliantly understated throughout. And that crackle from the synth in the background gives me goosebumps. And it's quite warm in here. Of course, The Liberty Ship are no one man band - the tracks that Rachel sings on have often been some of the best The Liberty Ship have given us. 'The Final Kick' is a good example. Almost thrown together, it brings to mind latter day Smiths, and in particular 'Unloveable'....but maybe at 78rpm. But comparisons don't really do 'Tide' justice. The Liberty Ship have been compared to all manner of 80s bands, from Hurrah to East Village - and I suspect Marc and the band are chuffed with this. But like that other great Elston album of the last 12 months - Slipslide's 'The World Can Wait', 'Tide' is a mighty album in its own right. It doesn't need comparison with anything else, because, let's be honest about it, when it pisses all over most of what passes for 'indie' music these days, this album could just about be the best place for anyone to start listening to indie pop music. Especially when this album contains such a precious gem as 'Coast', which manages to bring emotions of summer days and desperately unhappy winter nights all at the same time. And so, The Liberty Ship have managed to produce an album that was always within their grasp - thank heavens! One can only look forward to what they're gonna produce next.   --Tasty
another band we fondly fête are the liberty ship of nottingham england, one-half (alongside kosmonaut) of matinée's post-bulldozer crash phalanx. "tide" is their first full album, following a 7", a cd single and a mini-lp over the last couple of years, the latter on their former b.c. home of sunday records. while nobody in the sane world is going to doubt the liberty ship's songwriting abilities, the one worry we did have was whether over twelve tracks the dogged pursuit of melodic highs could transpire to make the record too one-dimensional. yet happily, despite its rather modest sleeve, "tide" has soundwaves of every description crashing against pure shores, from the great, powering swathes of guitars that wrap around "precious time" through the unabashed semi-acoustic eden of "chords drag you down" (a torch song cast around flickering electro beats which takes us back to the campfire analogies we drew about about earlier tunes back in the day) to the bubbles of reverb that appropriately ensconce the final tune "yuri gagarin" - another "kosmonaut" link and best yuri-tune since saturn v's "red star" - as it serenely orbits our respective bachelor / spinster pads. plus, to be fair we had already been vastly encouraged by the preview of "baseball caps and novas", a cracking popsong that premièred on the increasingly seminal "matinée autumn assortment" collection and justifiably pours scorn on "right-on" snobs like us (we're afraid that lines like "thinking of all the times / you feared assault and petty crime" are a fairly accurate description of when we lived in the liberty ship's home town, but we are more than prepared to accept that was probably just horribly unrepresentative...) the other thing that strikes you very quickly is some superb arrangements. as revealed in this interview with a downmarket e-zine, the liberty ship are willing students of hallowed names from the beatles through to xtc and the smiths (see below!), and songs here like "finer feelings" and "cabin fever" have really developed from their initial demo versions, "finer feelings" transformed from being "just" an extra-strength jangler into a luscious and more layered confection (harmonica and extra melody in the chorus, great backing vocals from rachel eyres, guitars set at just the right level of mild distortion, and marc's voice racing away towards the end as the 'ship do their old trick of kite-chasing: then it all hits the three minute mark and graciously implodes). similarly, "cabin fever" assumes new proportions, with plenty of strata of guitar, the pulse rate quickening as drummer steve mietlinski ups the bpm for the chorus and in doing so completes its transition from amenable folk song into indie-pop classic. and you'll recognise "final kick" from the last ep: a chime-ridden janglethon led by rachel's warm voice: she also takes the lead elsewhere, markedly with the splendorous "stars above". so, while the production throughout is not always exactly dre, and there are a couple of songs we don't feel too guilty about skipping, the quality on show here means that "tide" can not only withstand the absence of that last tour de force single "northern angel" but also the non-appearance of the great "don't react", which you will need to buy matinée's "summer splash!" sampler to get hold of, but don't worry this should not prove to be too much of an ordeal. ooh, and one last thing - while it is hopefully not accidental, the last minute or so of this album is a ringer for joy division's "incubation". somewhat inevitably therefore, the liberty ship tear us apart.   --In Love With These Times In Spite Of These Times
The Liberty Ship, a four-piece from Nottingham, England, play the kind of sparkling pop music conceived in intimate spaces. Alight with intelligent references and tangible feeling, not sentiment, it recalls Blueboy's sensitive indie-pop exemplar: "I am young and I am not cynical." Tide, the band's full-length debut, draws from the eloquence of pop (The Go-betweens and Pale Fountains) as well as its consonant jangle (Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and The Bluebells). It is the kind of skyward, brilliant pop music that happened but was largely unclaimed, save for those who loved it. A secret happening of shimmering guitars, fanzines and badges with band names, it was an early '80s thing, spilling over into the '90s, that went largely overlooked by the mainstream music press. Sarah, Esurient Communication, Postcard and Creation are a few of the labels considered a signature of that fond, initiate time. Alistair Fitchett, longtime pop affectionate and designer for several Esurient sleeves, assays the elements with capital letters. Spirit. Pop. Magic. Young and Foolish: A Personal Pop Odyssey, Fitchett's musical diary of sorts, is as reflective as it is communal: "You see for me this is what matters. Not so much the noises themselves, but the way they affect and effect changes to the everyday, how they make the extraordinary out of the ordinary." Tide is likewise thoughtful and unassuming, just what you might expect from Marc Elston (vocals, guitar), onetime songwriter in the band Bulldozer Crash. Of course it is an album of practiced guitar pop. However, softer, less protected turns of self-reflection are also in evidence, often made more winning when Rachel Eyres (vocals, guitar) is at the front, especially "Final Kick" and "Stars Above." The former, a wistful trade-off, reveals the ache of hanging on, approaching the matchless tread of both Grant McLennan and Stuart Murdoch. "Stars Above," written and sung by Eyres, is ingenue fare with a folky rave-up: "She's praying and placing her hopes on the stars above/ 'Cos what is a life/ Tell me what is a life without love." Throughout Eyres is attendantly pretty, like Isobel Campbell or Pam Berry, while Elston is reminiscent of Roddy Frame's open ease. "Baseball Caps and Novas" is one of the standouts, social query with a Rickenbacker gloss: "Can you give me any reason/ Why you find modern life displeasing/ And you find your journey's paved with broken glass/ And smashed up bones?" A cool tambourine alongside Tim Wade's punchy bass line and Steve Mietlinski's lively percussion is heady fun. "Cabin Fever" is also of note. Warding off another's unspooling at sea is an unlikely agent of literate pop, but it works well here: "Young man sailor boy beware/ Infected with the madness captains knew too well/ When cabin fever gets to you/ The sun comes crying from the deep." "Yuri Gagarin" is a novelty closer but in a good way, enjoying the curves and shapes of electronica in the same way the Field Mice did. A storied cosmonaut launches amid keyboards, punctuating bass fuzz and flowering sounds. Tide is an excellent reading of modern pop's fervent, badge-trading beginnings, heartful and versed. It is no surprise then that the Liberty Ship have found themselves at Matinée, a prestige indie-pop label that counts the Lucksmiths among its international roster and recently pressed the final Fairways recording. Such residency can only lead to better records from the Liberty Ship, a band whose melodies are equal to their expressiveness.   --Neumu
The story of Matinée goes on, with an album by The Liberty Ship. A blend of minor chord melancholy and steel toed sharpness, Tide is an album that sits neatly beside labelmates The Windmills’ offerings of bittersweet melodies whilst casting a glance over its shoulder at the bedroom Pop of, say, White Town. There’s also a lovely tray photo of the band name written in the sand which echoes the one used on the Visitors’ mercurial Miss collection of a few years ago and which reminds me once more of winter beach walks lost in the dunes, and you know if I was 17 again the Liberty Ship would surely be providing their soundtrack.   --Tangents
Ever wonder what happened to the positive people behind those Saturday morning cartoon jams? They moved over to the Liberty Ship, and now make pop music for contented grown-ups. The Nottingham group's Tide brings to shore low-key emotions, catchy songs, jangly guitars and very human vocals. The quartet do not use their brilliance to silence you or to fill you with awe; they simply make you feel good, and offer the nudge you need to put your own feet forward. Leader Mark Elston acts like the cool big brother no one's ever met; his songs give practical, levelheaded advice, and appear to exist as much for our own benefit as for his. They are devoid of rock attitude, and the lyrics read like platitudes in print. The group offers a gently breezy revision of Hüsker Dü's "Makes No Sense at All" ("Can you give me any reason / Why you find modern life displeasing?"), and later delivers some Dr. Phil-style wisdom ("Don't be defined by what you do"). Rhymes are as clean and lightweight as Mandy Moore's ("She's got a place in the sky with a view / She's got a whole lot of things she can do"); they could be sung at camp, in church, or at a petting zoo. The Liberty Ship are nothing like rock stars, and that lack of attitude helps to make them one of the best acts going today. Their compositions, never too clever for their own good, follow the verse-bridge-chorus route, with melodies that glue their individual notes in your head. Their simplicity is so pure it borders on banality, and their passion could be sucked from a toothy grin. Their brilliance is so downplayed as to sometimes be audible only from a distance, after you've listened to the record five or six times in a row. Relatively few people will hear Tide, but those who do will play it a lot. "Baseball Caps and Novas", "Final Kick" and "Naturally" are thoughtful exercises in Pop Excellence, and "Shine On" even touches a whiff of Byrdsy psychedelia. The Liberty Ship have a gentle moral code, offer some thought-provoking ideas, but their goals as modest as the waves that hit shore. The music makes your feet tingle, then dissipates, barely remembered -- but each time you revisit it, it will seem warmer, more comfortable and more essential to your life.   --Splendid
Nottingham, UK quartet The Liberty Ship work from a 60s folk rock template, where Byrdsy suspended fourths mingle with Buffalo Springfieldesque fuzztone. Although talented guitarist Marc Elston sings lead most of the time, it's the numbers sung by Rachel Eyres - chiming charmers "Final Kick," "Shine On" and "Stars Above" - that stand out strongest.   --The Big Takeover Magazine
I first came across Marc Elston, main singer/guitarist with Nottingham 4-piece the Liberty Ship, when he was one half of early 1990's duo Bulldozer Crash. By way of research, I dug out the two Bulldozer Crash 7" singles I had from an old box of singles gathering dust in the corner of my record room, and gave them a whirl. It was easy to see why they had been boxed away for so long, as the ravages of time had not treated them kindly. At best, they sounded weedy. But give Marc his due, that was over 10 years ago and his current LP, the debut by The Liberty Ship, shows a marked progression. Indeed it is even an improvement on the pleasant "I Guess You Didn't See Her" that I'd recently heard on the excellent Fire Station Records compilation ('I'd Tried a Thousand Times, a Thousand Times to Change Your Mind). The overall sound on 'Tide' is much more accomplished than previous releases and represents the fact that The Liberty Ship are a fully realised band as opposed to a bedroom project. Opening gambit 'Finer Feelings' sets the tone nicely, but its co-singer/guitarist, Rachel Eyres, that cements a solid start with the impressive 'Final Kick' - very much in the style of Tompaulin or even The Haywains. 'Cabin Fever', one of the LP's stronger tracks, sees Marc back on lead vocals, before 'Baseball Caps and Novas' questions some of the lessdesirable sides of modern society in a fine pop format. Rachel skips confidently through the country-fied 'Stars Above', before we get to the album's highlight and, sadly, last track,'Yuri Gagarin', an urgent guitar rocker that blows away the weedy tag of old. In between times we get one or two harmless ballads, but all in all this is a promising debut that's worth finding some spare cash for......of course, I may change my mind in 10 years!   --Pennyblack Magazine
Isn't life peculiar? Our society is of our own making so I am led to believe and yet commercial success and genuine musical talent do not go hand in hand. You can be fairly musically inept and yet with the correct money-base behind you, the music buying public at large are led to believe that you are exactly what they want to hear. Conversely you can produce a collection of 12 extremely well written songs which are then played with musical aplomb and you may never be appreciated except by the discerning few. Thank god for outfits like Matinée that give such talents like Nottingham based, Liberty Ship a chance. There is not a bad track on this release and the whole album grows with every subsequent hearing. It may not be to everybody's taste particularly if you like your music loud and heavy. However if well written lyrics and beautifully crafted songs are what you expect, you are in for a treat. Rachel Eyres provides the lead vocals on three tracks which instantly grab you with their simple beautiful style but perhaps the talent of singer-song writer, Marc Elston is the real mainstay of this fine little album. His catchy pop/rock songs compete with one another as to which one is the best. 'Baseball Caps and Novas' can not fail to appeal. Its hurried pace and distinctive lyrics are delivered by both voices in total compliment. 'Chords drag you down' is another track with instant appeal but it still grows considerably on future hearings. 'Finer Feelings', the opening track is superb and provides the listener with an accurate picture of what is to come. But 'Cabin fever' may just edge into first place. Intelligent pop at its best. Chart music sells not because it is good but because it is constantly being given airplay. This music is very good. All you have to do is to give it, the airplay yourself.   --Friends of the Heroes