This is an album I’ve been looking forward to but with some trepidation. Their debut album, Statues, is one of my favourite albums of recent years and it’s always hard to follow up such a stellar debut. In keeping with the album title, All That Divides, on first listen my opinion was divided. Yes, it’s 100% a Black Peaks album but it seemed to not quite have the intensity I loved from the first record.
There were certainly moments that jumped out and grabbed your attention and some epic tracks but I guess it’s not quite the album I was expecting. Then again, this is not the first time I’ve experienced this. I remember back to when Nirvana released Nevermind. I had discovered them when they released their stellar debut Bleach, also one of my favourite albums of the time. When Nevermind came out I also thought that lacked the intensity of the first one. Obviously, though, it was most certainly the right move for Nirvana, as making the music slightly more mainstream brought them to the attention of the world. I guess part of the similarity is that both turned to world class production teams for their second album, with Black Peaks using Adrian Bushby (Grammy Award winner for Muse and Foo Fighters).
Upon listening to All That Divides a few more times, it seems like they have done the same. There is a slight shift in the sound, moving them more into the mainstream and I think they will pick up even more fans because of this. For me, it’s an album of two halves: the first half of the album seems like the potential singles and the second half seems to have the more edgy songs that remind me most of the first album. If I had it on vinyl I’d probably wear out the second side more than the first.
In the modern era there is not so much emphasis on ‘the album’, so looking at the tracks on their own the album gets off to a good start with ‘Can’t Sleep’ a classic brooding song with some killer hooks. Followed by the edgy ‘The Midnight Sun’, which is an epic longer track in the same vain as ‘Hang ‘Em High’ off the first album. ‘Aether’ and ‘Across the Great Divide’ bring back that classic Black Peaks mixture of a melodic track that builds into heavier parts.
One of my favourite tracks and most certainly a potential killer single at some point is ‘Home’, I can see myself singing this all the way home from one of their gigs. The final three tracks all stand up in their own right and, to me, have more of the same dynamics and feel of the first album.
So after a few listens all my trepidation has melted away and I am starting to love each and every one of the tracks on the album. I think they have done a great job of evolving their sound but still keeping that essential Black Peaks style.