Album Review: Herds – Falling Wide Awake

Nottingham-based Herds (formerly The Amber Herd) are a psych rock group who have just come to my attention thanks to their new album Falling Wide Awake. The band have a bit of a local connection too, with vocalist and guitarist Paul Wentworth growing up in Malton, so I definitely needed to give their latest a listen.

By Graeme Smith

Under their former and new banner, Herds have been playing for ten years, taking on festivals like Bearded Theory and supporting big names including Echo & The Bunnymen, The Waterboys and Jethro Tull. All that experience shines through in Falling Wide Awake, a heady collection of eight odysseys.

The album opens with Innsbruck. It’s a slow-building start with long-lingering feedback-rich guitar before a drum riff signals the start of its psychedelic groove. It’s a track that will instantly get you moving as well as feeling, long before soulful vocals complete the picture.

Station of The Cross opens with acoustic guitar before developing into a light and lilting arrangement that somewhat disguises the depth and darkness of its lyrics. Half Light keeps things acoustic with an intimate and introspective feel before Just the Rain rounds off the first half of the album with a lively and upbeat psych rock highlight.

Strange Caravans, a delicate ballad featuring Ali Taylor, shows us the philosophical side of Herds’ sound. Faith, by contrast, is short, sharp folk punk. New Year is the band at their most expansive. It unfolds over fifteen minutes, starting stripped back and growing into a meandering, hypnotic classic rock wonder before Avalanche closes the album with a cantering ten-minute trip. It’s a final highlight.

Herds are Neil Beards on vocals and acoustic guitar, Al Duncan on bass, Ollie Powditch on keys, Mark Lasbury on drums, and Paul Wentworth on electric guitar and vocals. Falling Wide Awake was recorded at JT Soar, Nottingham by Phil Booth.

If you happen to be in Nottingham on Friday, the band will be playing an album launch show there at the Liquid Light Craft Brewery. They’ll also be heading to Great Yarmouth on 11 November.

Falling Wide Awake is out in all the usual places on 20 October.