Melancholic, smooth vocals drive Dry The River’s latest, and final, EP Hooves of Doubt, in a melodic indie-folk-rock compilation. An EP that sounds like winter – cosy and soothing like flannel shirts and patterned jumpers – it has an interesting vibe that’s a mash-up of Bombay Bicycle Club, Bon Iver and Mumford and Sons at different points. It’s a pretty classic indie-folk record, but with a moody, dark side not unlike that of Ben Howard’s 2014 release, I Forget Where We Were.
Opening track ‘Coast’ sets up a melodic, lullaby tone, as Peter Liddle’s strong vocal range is harmonised with the soft percussion and romantic guitars the rest of the band provide. Liddle’s vocal abilities are explored brilliantly in the title track, with smooth, higher-pitched vocals juxtaposed with a spoken background track that adds layers of depth to the song. Lyrically, the track ‘Hooves of Doubt’ is particularly capturing, especially when considered as the title track on a ‘parting gift’ EP from a recently-split band. Lyrics such as “When the spirit’s broken / The eyes aren’t open / To what might come” reflect upon the despair and disillusionment felt by a band who, after seven years in the music industry, split citing ‘rough economic times’ as a straw that broke them.
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A heavier, electric instrumental base in fourth track ‘New Cross’ adds a denser, funky dimension to the EP, coming to a cacophonic climax in ‘Five Four,’ with crashing cymbals, whining bass and a tempestuous attitude. The final tracks on Hooves of Doubt burn with the passion of a candle that won’t go out, giving fans the impression that although the band has split, their fervour and vehemence will live on through their music. ‘Five Four’ closes with a brass fanfare, leading into ‘Husk’, a peaceful, absorbing closing track that lays the band to rest with the resonating lyrics of “you can’t always get what you want” dissolving into a disillusioned outro of “I don’t sleep so well / […] / I was a husk.”
The EP overall has a sense of unwillingness to let go, a final heartbeat of fiery passion sent out to every one of the fans, the affectionately termed “Sons and Daughters of the River”, the band has earned over seven years.
Words by Rachael Davis