Waterford alternative folk group In The Willows arrived on the scene in 2011. Originally a trio, but now an expanded six-piece band, ‘Before Everybody Disappears’ is their first full length album. This follows up from two EPs ‘Long Time Listener’ and ‘Vantage Point’. The latter was a teaser to ‘Before Everybody Disappears’ and every track from that EP appears on the album.
In the Willows look to build a comforting atmosphere with plinks of piano, softly sung vocals and understated violin but despite their best intentions this comes across as maudlin. ‘Before Everybody Disappears’ ranges from overly-sentimental to unemotional and the strengths of the band are never fully realised.
Lead vocal duties are shared between Daithi Glas and Tara Heffernan and while they both have undeniably fine voices the melodies they sing do not bring out the best of them. Occasionally there are segments of songs (Time Of Year, Wake Me If I’m Asleep) where it feels like they’ll whip up the necessary depth of feeling that you hear from the likes of Fleet Foxes or Marissa Nadler, only for them to drift back to mawkish territory.
There are only a couple of occasions where they manage to construct a song that begins to grab some attention. Sirens has a tad more polish and does weld some backing vocals from Heffernan into an overall upbeat tune. La Danse stands out as the album highlight with its beautiful whiskey-soaked waltz. But every time they get something right, its counter-balanced by nondescript songs like Cage, It’s Over and Rowing Boat.
‘Before Everybody Disappears’ is a distinctly run-of-the-mill album. It fails to sufficiently tug the heart strings and is as flat as some unfortunate badger in the middle of a road. It’s a pity because as musicians and singers In The Willows have evidently got talent, but a handful of semi-interesting songs does not constitute an album worth recommending.