Opening with the cracking Mission, wherein Suffolk-based eclecticists Druids thunder into view with all the quirk, strangeness and charm of a latter day Hawkwind, Druids looks all set to be something of a find.
However by the time third track Reflections kicks in, you might well have changed your opinion, especially if it’s hardcore rock you’re looking for. Druids are definitely quirky, I’ll give them that, but I’m maybe thinking that a little more focus and a little less diversity is maybe a good thing, especially on a band’s first album.
Second track Stuart Slater mines a glam-pop sort of vibe, but it’s not really charming enough to pull that kind of schtick off. More successful Is the afore-mentioned Reflections, but really, if you are looking for something a little more hard rock you’ll probably have switched off by now. Kasabian is a band that springs to mind listening to this track, and if that sets alarm bells ringing in your head then we’ll part company now.
Time is darker and infinitely more compelling; there’s a nice, swelling build up as the song reaches its crescendo, guitarist Richard Tyler adding some nice touches and there are some fine vocal parts at work too – though from who I’m not sure as drummer Joel Kurta and bassist Jay Goodrich are both listed as vocalist – with the whole giving off a nice modern prog vibe.
The brooding Pulling the Trigger is next, all sinister creep and crashing powerchords, Goodrich’s keyboard squelches adding another layer of atmosphere and a strange menace to the track. This is really involving stuff – you’ll find your whole body twitching involuntarily as the track unfolds – and really encourages you to stick around to find out what the band is going to do next.
Sadly what they do next is another stab at glam pop in the form of Honey Pie which isn’t as successful and best left to its own devices. Unless you’re a fan of T Rex, in which case you’ll probably love it in all it’s slightly kitschy glory.
Still as a blip it’s a small one at under three minutes in duration, and heavier service is resumed with the riffy Jog On, Kurta’s rock solid percussive bass propping up the riffs of Tyler and giving the song a real presence despite the slightly lightweight vocal.
Penultimate track When You’re in Love is a drawn out blues that again allows Tyler to show us what he’s got but ultimately just runs out of steam, and the band bring the curtain down with a quiet, thoughtful ballad Fantasy which brings to mind my countrymen Super Furry Animals with it’s wistful air and robot voices. Ending with a ballad means the album just sort of peters out, which after the strident intro with Mission is a bit of a disappointment, but overall if you approach this album with an open mind there’s enough to recommend it and certainly enough to suggest that Druids have a bright future if they could only sharpen up their instincts and decide in which of the many directions hinted at here their destiny truly lies. Interesting.