ALBUM REVIEW: Lonely the Brave - What We Do to Feel
The band are once again back to their best
In the near 10 years since their debut, Cambridge rockers, Lonely The Brave, have been on quite the journey. After two cult classic albums (The Day’s War and Things Will Matter), they eventually reached the main stage at Reading & Leeds Festival seemingly destined to be one of the country’s biggest rock bands.
Suddenly though, everything changed, as in 2018 founding member and enigmatic lead singer, Dave Jakes, departed the band to focus on his mental health. This not only left the band briefly without a voice but, more importantly, without the one that had helped lift their music to soaring emotional heights that few other rock bands could touch.
Not to be deterred though, the band reached out to their pal, Jack Bennett (who had just started to make a name for himself under his Grumblebee guise), to become their new lead vocalist. Following this appointment, their optimistic third album, The Hope List, was a timely release at the height of the COVID pandemic in early 2021, serving as a reintroduction for the quintet to their loyal fanbase.
Whilst it never quite hit the heights of their early work, The Hope List served its purpose by showing that Bennett hadn’t joined the band to replace Dave Jakes, as quite frankly no-one could – but instead to add a refreshing new dynamic to the band’s signature sound and help lead them towards a new dawn. Now on album number 4, Lonely The Brave have seemingly arrived at this intended destination.
What We Do To Feel is an album that finds beauty in the simplicities of life, at a time where Lonely The Brave’s music has become, out of necessity, almost a background project to their everyday existence. The band not only have other day jobs to pay the bills, but guitarist, Ross Smithwick, has just opened a restaurant with his wife, and drummer, Mo Edgeley, has recently become a father. As a result, frontman Jack Bennett has arguably become their biggest asset, producing the album and pulling the more disparate writing process together in order to forge the anthemic songs found on this epic new record.
'Finding beauty in the simplicities of life' - Lonely the Brave (Photo credit: Nick Pope)
Originally, Lonely The Brave built their dedicated following through resonating in a way that few of their rock peers could. Now with What We Do To Feel, they get back to that by taking the normalcy of everyday life and transforming it into thrilling, deeply impressionable moments built primarily on love, hope and unity.
Opener 'Long Way' presents these positive themes straight away, with its uplifting guitars and message to keep going in the face of adversity. Lead single 'The Lens' then follows, bringing with it a sense of togetherness driven by our own unique perspectives on the world. However, it is 'Our Sketch Out' that leaves the biggest mark in the opening run, with its gentle strums, soft synths and flourishes of strings as Jack achingly sings “wait there, I’ll show you how I care".
After that, the album momentarily gets a little darker with recent single 'Victim' - a song which conveys the feeling of the whole world being against you through Jack’s deflated cries of “It doesn’t matter what I do". That said, it is the spiralling, looming guitars of Mark Trotter and Ross Smithwick that steal the show, with the instrumentation as richly layered as any moment on the record. 'Colour Me Sad' is similarly fantastic, with its autumnal textures eventually building into a tsunami of swirling strings. 'The Ramp' then offers up a short, haunting interlude - one that you end up wishing was much longer as it seems to steadily escalate only to eventually fizzle away. Possibly though this was the intention, representing the fleetingness of existence within the album’s wider themes.
Thankfully though, the wealth of rewards are there to be found in the final stretch of songs, which arguably house the album’s best moments. 'In The Well' rumbles towards some gorgeous orchestral swells, while 'Eventide' is an awe-inspiring stunner that sees the band firing on all cylinders. 'Unseen' is then Jack’s shining moment, beginning with his piano-playing and climaxing in his powerful, gravelly cries of “Don’t mind me, I’ll be better unseen". It’s a goosebump-inducing track that leads perfectly into colossal closer 'The Bear', which looks at the fear of losing loved ones and begins with an ominous Deftones-esque bassline, before eventually exploding into a triumphant, jaw-dropping crescendo at the end.
Sounding even more at ease in their new skin, What We Do To Feel sounds like a true rebirth for Lonely The Brave. Where The Hope List at times felt like them finding their feet again, the songs crafted here deliver the spine-tingling, intricately woven compositions and gut-punch moments that helped them to resonate so strongly in the first place, almost a decade ago. With Jack’s passionate vocals now sounding more at home within their immense, life-affirming sound, it feels like Lonely The Brave are once again back to their best.
What We Do To Feel is out on Friday (10 November) via Easy Life