In 2012 I came across a rather bizarre album cover and I listened to said album on looks alone. I know, you shouldn’t judge a book(or album) by its cover, but in this situation it was the best possible choice I could’ve made. Tilbury was the band, and Exorcise was the album and it blew me away. The album seemed to have appeared from out of nowhere. Actually, it appeared from Iceland which is where Tilbury are from. I felt I’d found this great little treasure that no one else in the good old USA had heard of. For the most part I think I was right. I seemed to have been alone in my absolute adoration of this band. Nary an article I could find in the frozen tundra of the interweb(at least anything originating from the lower 48). Oh well, I’d keep them to myself. Fast forward to late 2013 and the release of Tilbury’s sophomore effort, the simply titled Northern Comfort. They have lost nothing from last time around. They have even seemed to have honed in on their strengths(subtle, melancholy pop in the key of Grandaddy), and magnified the details woven within the sonics of their beautifully crafted and sonically rich songs. In other words, no sophomore slump to be found.
The sound of Tilbury. Well, imagine the sonic palate of The Alan Parsons Project mixed with the sadsack mope of Grandaddy and Sparklehorse. The instrumentation can be simple and sparse one second, then blow up into this cacophony of grand noise. Where Exorcise leaned heavily on synth goodness, Northern Comfort sounds built from the ground up with more real instrumentation. Album opener “Deliverance” goes from quiet and moody in the verse to an explosion of almost ELO proportion in the chorus, then back down again. Vocally its as if the singer is telling us a tale of woe in the dark, cold evening air of Reykjavik whilst sharing a smoke. There’s no flamboyance in his delivery, which adds to the dramatic lament the music delivers with ease. “Frozen” sounds like a cross between Jason Lytle and Midlake on a Schnapps and 7-Up bender. Woozy sadness and a barely there crooked grin. Tilbury make a kind of pop music that settles into your bones and can both chill and warm you. “Turbulence” is a pop gem that those Vampire Weekend kids wish they would’ve written. “Shook Up” starts out like some alternate universe version of The Shangri-Las “Remember(Walking In The Sand)”, had Echo and the Bunnymen dreamt it in a fever dream.”Transmission” ends this excellent album with an 80s disco beat and great bass line that leads us out the door with a sad little groove.
Listen, I talked and talked and talked Tilbury up in 2012 but to no avail. I’m going to do it again in 2014. Please, seek this band out. Northern Comfort is a beautiful piece of mopey, melancholy pop you’d be remiss not to stick in your earholes. Iceland is offering up a wonderful gift for us, and Tilbury is its name.
8.8 out of 10