The Early Years hit you with their second album and from track one forward we enter a world where it appears the short-lived Merseyside mavericks The Crucial Three have reunited to reignite that six weeks that were spent together in 1977. The Crucial Three, who are they the masses scream? Well, this unholy trinity comprised of the talents of a trio who are best known in the guises that came after their ephemeral gathering. Julian Cope (The Teardrop Explodes), Ian McCulloch (Echo & the Bunnymen), and Pete Wylie (Wah!).
The Cope and McCulloch leanings here are immense in the vocal delivery and Bunnymen beats are also prominent (e.g. Nocturne and (Do it (Again); anyone for the Mac-nificent Do it Clean?) with the Wylie peripheral pop panache also surfacing in the mix.
For those reasons this homage to that sonic cathedral makes for a damn fine experience as some of the more interesting elements of 70’s and 80’s alternative alchemy come to the fore. From Krautrock via New Order, The Cure and a whole host of quality influences The Early Years shake up a bag of tricks that do not amount to a same old for a same old but a fresh forum for a fresh forum. These guys cherry pick their references and create a landscape that is awash with the brutal, the brittle, the beautiful and the beast.
Take the nine minute plus of For the Fallen which is akin to Carnage Visors when Robert Smith and his aural adventurers shed vocals in search of the visceral instrumental. On the other side of this song a pure solo Cope terrain could place Hush, Out of Signal or Memory Caseon to Fried with a Will Sergeant style arrangement sealing the goods. Other songs can head even further inside and outside of these brilliant bountiful borders and Hall of Mirrors encapsulates so much emotion and endeavour that displays that The Early Years are searching for a selection of sounds not just a winning formula.
There is so much more amongst the ten tracks and it is quite evident that this band are aiming for the epic as only a pair of the ten numbers present fall under the five minute barrier.
This speeded up then spaced out wedding has appeal to aficionados of the past, present and future as a Death in Vegas slant to proceedings has Fluxus, Near Unison and Clone Theory slipping in to crossover crusades where styles and substance go in to the melting pot.
These are a so many new acts on that illusive quest to a musical Mecca but The Early Years are not a flash in the pan as their self-titled debut album came a decade before and it has taken a lot of graft and grit to arrive at II. However, the wait has been worth its weight in the glut of golden grooves that have fortunately arrived in 2016. We can only hope for more releases and further concerts from this East London quartet as they enter their all important middle years!