This is a review of "You Shall Go To The Ball" recorded by The March Greens. The review was written by Jessica Thornsby in 2009.
The debut EP from Leeds-based indie-pop act The March Greens opens with the wistful 'You Don't Need It Or Deserve It.'
Clunky acoustic guitar creates a small-scale, intimate vibe that perfectly compliments Spencer Bayles' tentative vocals. This is a very personal-feeling song. Touches of violin draw out the sadness lurking in Bayles' pensive vocals, making for a very understatedly mournful listen, that thankfully never succumbs to self-pity.
While Bayles' barely-there vocals are a definite positive in the context of this song, the accompanying female vocals play an uncertain role. Hovering somewhere between background and dual-main vocal duties, they're a little too strong to add atmosphere, and too weak to contribute anything more substantial. Ultimately, they just distract from what's otherwise a decent piece of yearning-infused indie-pop.
'Cinders' has a marching drumbeat that is far too prominent for both Bayles' dreamily vague vocals and the twangy acoustic guitar and twinkly synths combo that make up the rest of this song. Those drumbeats are all you'll be able to hear.
This problem is rectified past the midway point, as the acoustic guitar begins to rattle with newfound vigour, and an undercurrent of buzzy riffs is introduced, effectively blunting the drumbeats.
During the first half, the drummer seems to be playing a completely different song to the rest of the band but, when it all falls into place, the second half angst-fest is all the more affecting because of the long wait. A passable first half, but the last minute heart-wrench makes this a song worth sticking with.
'Manhattan' sees the return of those female vocals that add absolutely nothing to the song. Elsewhere, Bayles' voice wafts sadly across clattery acoustic strumming and plodding drumbeats, softening what's otherwise a surprisingly raw, country-inspired sing song.
The sublimely melodic chorus will have you swaying mellowly along in no time, and a sprinkling of starry synths puts a final, heartbroken-yet-optimistic sheen on the song.
Don't expect 'Manhattan' to leap out and grab you - or even burrow its way into your consciousness. This is a track to play in the background while you're going about more pressing tasks. Pleasantly undemanding.
'You Shall Go To The Ball' is the sound of quiet heartbreak and longing. Its beautifully sad vocals and wistful melodies are prevented from becoming morbid by the occasional bit of sparkling synth-work. Quiet, sad, and easy-on-the-ears, The March Greens are a band for those who like their music light.