CD REVIEW: The Conspirators

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The Conspirators: Album (Maddie Records).

THE Conspirators are a quietly deceptive band, so much so that on first listen to their new album I got completely the wrong impression.

Not a cool indie guitar band or a punky indie guitar band or an arty indie guitar band, more a middle of the road Beautiful South or slightly bland jangly Magic Numbers pop outfit.

Which at least meant these songs must be technically ‘good’ and, indeed, they are, not just the tracks which have already appeared with some notable success for this Bedale-based band in the past such as Turning Green (their debut single on Transcend Records) but all of them, in fact.

The Conspirators are naturally gifted pop songwriters and arrangers, unusually blessed with two contrasting singers - girl and boy (hence those thoughts of the Beautiful South), lead singer Genevieve Parker and main songwriter and rhythm guitarist John Gillies, who share the spotlight and, occasionally, the microphone together to good effect.

Best of all is the easy swing the band bring to how they play. The foot never goes on the pedal until it has to, the rhythm purrs as the band slink their way effortlessly through the song like a sleeks sports car, before such vehicles got big and obvious and ugly.

Having established they’re good enough to be Belle & Sebastian in their toe-tapping, slightly 60s r’nb album moments, The Conspirators surprise me with a dramatic change of direction for the last two tracks which reveal, perhaps, their most unique feature.

Penultimate song Who’s Got The Money and closing number Trouble Storm throw in some real drama for the first time and a hint of prog and a lot of late 60s Fairport Convention, providing Genevieve’s amazingly piercing crystal glass vocals a stronger backdrop to work with.

The results are even more impressive, leading me to realise I may have been looking in the wrong place all along.

Forget indie pop, The Conspirators are a great modern folk-rock band.

Graham Chalmers