Although Bristol’s Snails may have pursued a release rate pattern at a pace on par with their gastropod namesakes, this long-awaited debut vinyl LP for Feral Child – which tardily follows 7″ singles from 2011 and 2015 on The Great Pop Supplement – is surprisingly and pleasingly light on its feet. Whilst the group was originally conceived as a duo vehicle for Dan Weltman (guitar/vocals) and Mog Fry (vocals/trumpet), Snails have now swelled to a quintet to include Steve Dixon (drums), Holly McIntosh (bass/vocals) and Matthew Cheney (keyboards) for the potpourri of gentility and spryness that is Safe In Silence.
Recorded in piecemeal fashion under the production wing of Joe Garcia and John Parish-cohort Ali Chant as well as with extra guests providing violin, cello, keyboards, flute and saxophone, the ten-track suite (which also appeared in low-key digital form last September) is a handsomely and thoughtfully crafted affair that bridges the gap between late-‘60s/early-‘70s folk and psychedelia and mid-‘90s pastoral-pop. Hence, you will find flashbacks to Pink Floyd’s seminal early singles (“Jennifer Jones”); warm homages to The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society (“More Than A Second” and “Olivia”); shades of If You’re Feeling Sinister-era Belle & Sebastian (“Winter Hearts”); affectionate nodding to Kevin Ayres (“Red Nose Floating”); strings-encircled Nick Drake-like delicacy (“Talking To Anthony”); and wistful mid-period Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci cantering (“Go On Down” and “Maisie”).
Even though the influences carried visibly on Snails’ back are impossible not to spot, the five-piece are satisfyingly not weighed or slowed down by them. Ultimately, it’s the group’s own clever hooks and inventive intricacies which drive the songs along as much as the musical-history fuel pumped into them. An assured and amorphous belated full-length statement in short.