Climbing Trees Ascend New Heights
On first listen, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Climbing Trees were from somewhere a bit more exotic than South Wales. In fact, if the band weren't the self-proclaimed pioneers of 'Cymrucana' (like Americana, but Welsh, get it?), you may even think that their sweeping indie-rock had its roots across the Atlantic. In reality, Climbing Trees hail from Pontypridd, but the potential confusion about their origin is testament to how well they've honed their Americana-influenced sound. After a busy few years since their debut release in 2013, the four-piece has returned with their second full-length, 'Borders'.
'Borders' showcases the band's ability to create an expansive sound while adhering to the 'less-is-more' school of songwriting; the record never gets too overblown or histrionic. Climbing Trees certainly live up to their 'Cymrucana' title on the album, with strummed acoustic guitars, subdued drums and a laid-back vocal combining to create the sort of sound that Coldplay would have if they had started out in Pasadena and not at Uni in London.
Opener (and latest single) 'Tracks' sets the tone for much of the album with its rich vocal and weaving country guitar lines. It also shows off the confidence present in the band's songwriting – the track remains cleverly subdued before finally opening up into a satisfyingly powerful final chorus. The intricate guitar riff that opens 'Amber' is another highlight, providing a change of pace from the strummed guitar parts that fill the album. The true gem of this record, however, comes in the form of the track 'Caesar'. Nestled firmly in the middle of the album, this song is a beautiful post-rock soundscape that ebbs and flows in all the right places – this is a track that could very easily become self-indulgent, but Climbing Trees avoid that trap with aplomb.
Unfortunately, after the sublime 'Caesar', the remainder of the album pales in comparison – the lack of changes in volume, intensity or atmosphere leave the second half of the record a bit ponderous. The swirling organ and bluegrass-tinged guitar-work of lead single 'Graves' provide some respite.
'Borders' is a confident display of what Climbing Trees can do, and despite the odd dull moment, it's a very solid record. After the recent attention the band have garnered from the likes of Huw Stephens and Tom Robinson, these guys are one to watch – they're on the way up.