Birmingham five-piece Goodnight Lenin cite influences commensurate with their psychedelic folk leanings, with CSN, Simon and Garfunkel and Dylan being among them – but it seems like there’s also a healthy dose of music from the other end of the M6 as well as from across the Atlantic that informs their first release, ‘The Wenceslas Square EP’.
Opening tracks Ode To Rebellion and The Follower have a lilting, foreboding quality – guitars drenched with reverb and echo recede to bring violins and close harmony to the forefront, varations reminiscent of Merseyside bands The Coral and The La’s. Lyrics, however, are firmly camped in the storyteller mode of Dylan and Donovan.
Edward Colby provides a wistful counterpoint to the more strident earlier tracks, bringing a welcome contrast that displays Goodnight Lenin’s versatility. The snatches of radio dialogue and white noise between songs seems a little contrived, although it does emphasise the band’s ability to weave between different genres. Each track runs into the next by virtue of this technique as if they have been found or revealed, leaving you unsure of whether these songs were written forty years ago or four months ago.
The band have been compared to Mumford and Sons and other bands of their ilk (not to be disparaging), but Goodnight Lenin’s sound seems more personal, more rough around the edges, more likeable. They have been gigging incessantly since their formation in 2009, and it shows – the easy harmonies and instinctive arrangements belie the amount of work that has gone into their sound.
Few bands manage to combine playfulness in melody with heartfelt lyrics in the way that they do – it remains to be seen whether they can extend that to a full album, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they can.
Ode To Rebellion
Performing at The Larmer Tree Festival (2011): Wenceslas Square
The Wenceslas Square ep is available on Static Caravan
Sat, Dec 3 8:00 pm, Birmingham Cathedral, Birmingham Tickets available here.