12 Mar 2015

Promise "Promise"

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

The seventies may have been full of Beatlesque power-pop, but by 1980 the emergence of punk and new wave had made that seem very old hat indeed. Fortunately Boulder, Colarado based band Promise missed that particular memo, and as a result we have their rather wonderful self titled debut album to enjoy. Got Kinda Lost Records are doing their bit to make this private press gem a little more accessible with this brand spanking new vinyl reissue. Nice.

"Promise" certainly belongs in the upper echelon of Beatlesque obscurities among the likes of Rockin' Horse, Lazy Smoke, Emitt Rhodes and Ellie Pop. This was really recorded in 1980? Wow. It certainly doesn't sound like co-leads Curt Mangan and Danny Mey have ever heard anything recorded after the mid seventies, which for British Invasion influenced rock/pop like this, is a very, very good thing. A new wave sheen would be most unwelcome here, and its absence gives "Promise" a timeless quality which makes it an extremely easy listen

The Beatlesque label is one that Promise have been tagged with extensively (usually by record dealers looking to up their prices), but if we're being honest here this is far more evocative of Wings at their very best. There's not a trace of Lennon to be found here, just joyous Macca styled pop with impeccable harmonies which sound like Macca finally had the balls to tell Linda that perhaps this chorus would sound a little better if she were to sit it out.

So, it should be clear that it sounds glorious, but there's much more to "Promise" than tone alone. There's an excellent balance here between mournful beat-balladry with a distinct late sixties tinge, and tough rockers with Thin Lizzy style dual guitars (check out "The Find"!) And these songs are loaded with some pretty massive, irresistible hooks. The choruses of "Back In My Heart Again" and "Later on Tonite" are ridiculously addictive, the sorts of songs that you'll find yourself humming inadvertently for weeks after.

Obviously 1980 was not the ideal time to release an album like this, especially given the limited promotional reach that the band's own label, Cumulus Records, had. The accessibility of obscure music via the internet over the last decade has made considerations such as this much less relevant however, and Promise's obvious quality has built them up a small, but devoted following, one which will continue to grow as this release spreads.

"Promise" is available here.

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