The Zodiac, Oxford
8th March 2005
Imagine the agony: four Cornwall youngsters meet at college, find common musical ground, form a band, draw their songwriting inspiration from their surroundings, spend years crafting their sound, move to London and get signed – only to find a trio called Keane occupying their space in the MOR indie scene. Those Cornwallians are Thirteen Senses, and this story tells you most of what you need to know about their sound.
However, all this doesn’t mean that they should be dismissed immediately. Their piano-based similarity to Keane may not be deliberate, but an unfortunate coincidence. Their non-piano tracks nod towards Coldplay and Elbow, but again it’s probably not deliberate; just a case of growing up in the same country in the last few decades, drawing on the same influences.
Singer Will South directs proceedings, either from his Korg or guitar – roughly half of the set is driven by each. Will introduces their first top 20 hit, Thru The Glass, as one of their few “jumping around” numbers; it’s also the only one I recognise, and the most memorable – anthemic rather than delicate, positive rather than plaintive. New single The Salt Wound Routine, on the other hand, is string-laden emotion, and best just described as “nice”.
For the four of them, they do manage to make an assured, large sound; nevertheless, it’s evocative, like a soundtrack to a childhood, though any child involved might be a bit bored after the 15 songs played tonight. The way they repeat hooks and layer parts thankfully makes the flat melodies a bit more listenable.
One supposes that their debut album – The Invitation – is a grower, but I don’t know whether I’d be willing to investigate; my initial impression hasn’t really left me hungry for more.
From Nightshift, April 2005