It’s amazing what difference a few years make. Since the Earlies’ start as a tape-swapping project, this quartet has ballooned into a 12-plus member live act, and their LP, The Enemy Chorus, shows they have grown more than just in number. The depth of the Earlies’ new full-length shows a more confident and mature band stretching leagues above its previous work. In fact, 2005’s collection of EPs, These Were the Earlies, feels small and almost amateurish when held up against the magnitude of The Enemy Chorus.
The Earlies achieve this feat by straying away from the pastoral pop of their early efforts and crossing into new, darker territory. This half-Texan, half-English band uses a heavy dose of kraut rock and bit of prog to plot their change in direction, while molding these influences into their own sound. Throughout the album, rhythmic keyboard patterns, inventive orchestration and punching drum sequences guide the listener through a hypnotic series of tracks brimming with smart twists in style and production. The Earlies’ lush orchestral arrangements on songs such as “Foundations and Earth” and “Gone for the Most Part” bring a new level of intensity, and it’s this type of production savvy that makes the record so exceptional. At times, the Earlies’ recording techniques even rival the works of such legendary producers as David Axelrod and Nigel Godrich.
Despite the record being primarily dark, the band is sure to throw in enough sunny moments to save it from been filed under the doom and gloom category. Ultimately, The Enemy Chorus plays like some twisted carnival ride of sound and vision, making this record superb headphone fodder. In 2007, these are the Earlies.