The Virginmarys – Divides

The Virginmarys - Divides

The Virginmarys – Divides

Expectations for Divides were high following the successes of The Virginmarys’ 2013 debut King Of Conflict. The album enjoyed coverage from several large media publications including the likes of Rolling Stone. Right from the opening track here, “Push the Pedal”, it is clear that any doubts or concerns that may have been lingering are severely misplaced. The powerful bass-line and pounding drums open up into a fierce warning sign for what is to follow.

The Macclesfield-based trio are a passionate, heart on their sleeves kind of band. As society grows ever more divided and frustrations with the authorities increase, politically charged music has enjoyed something of a resurgence. Whilst not exactly sonic bedfellows of acts like Letlive and Sleaford Mods, The Virginmarys are equally disillusioned and disenfranchised. Symbolic of this they plead on lead single “Into Dust” “Give me something I can feel, give me people I can trust, as I sit back with my poker face, and crumble into dust”. This album is darker and more intense than its predecessor and it serves as their stirring call to arms.

Lead singer Ally Dickaty has said “the overall theme of the album is the divides among people, freedom and power, injustice, inequality and corruption. Anger, disillusionment, injustice and frustration about where I feel we are in today’s society.” These themes inform almost every track on the album but also sit hand in hand with personal exploration.

Dickaty has spoken at length about his difficulties in dealing with sobriety and “Into Dust” and “Walk In My Shoes” twist these experiences into anthems for society’s most repressed and isolated. His voice strains at times through the emotional power of these songs, none more so than during the embattled screams of “Walk In My Shoes”. “Moths to the Flame” addresses Dickaty’s struggles with addiction and perfectly demonstrate why the band have developed such a devoted following. Fans are drawn in by such honest, powerful delivery and the album feels almost cathartic for Dickaty.

Musically the album is, at its core, classic rock – big, loud and dynamic. It is driven by the growling rhythm and bass of Danny Dolan and Matt Rose and enunciated by the shredding guitars of Dickaty. Wider influences however are clear throughout the record, from the bluesy groove of “I Wanna Take You Home”, to the very British vocal delivery of “Walk In My Shoes” which is matched by a Foo-esque riff and the punk attitude that overlays the whole record. As all these influences are weaved together it can make the music sound strangely familiar, like you have heard elements before. Nonetheless, when paired with such sincere songwriting and Dickaty’s vitriolic roar it is an undeniably compelling mix.

The album is beautifully paced and grows better with each passing track. The band worked with Gil Norton, who has previously produced for Pixies, Foo Fighters and Funeral For A Friend, and they credit Norton with pushing and testing them throughout the recording process. The benefits of this are clear to see on the album, which is a marked step up from King Of Conflict.  “Motherless Land” also highlights an underlying pop sensibility in the band, suggesting there is potentially more evolution to come.

The thrilling finale “Living In My Peace” serves as the centrepiece of the whole album, as Dickaty struggles with temptations to slip back into his old ways. Divides feels like a pivotal moment in the band’s career path as they strive to push forward and build on their successes. The Virginmarys seem to have truly found their artistic groove and the listener is left with an album that is striking, at times challenging, and consistently enthralling.

Wind-up Records