Belfast five-piece Seven Summits call themselves a rock band and, live, they are more than capable of a riff or two, but recorded they seem to inhabit the worlds of indie-quirk and something a lot more thoughtful and delicate, and not too far from alt-folk.
The quirkiness announces its presence from the beginning. Bell X1?s Paul Noonan’s habit of using disturbingly realistic metaphors alongside softer romance is echoed here, with Seven Summits‘ frontman Rory Nellis confronting listeners with mentions of the Christian Brothers and jokes about fantasising about girls in The Worrier . While Bell X1 have built their reputation and indeed thrived on this it seems a little contrived here, a little too much of a deliberate device.
The first half of the album is quite pleasant but not really any more than that; Know It All is almost forgettably middle-of-the-road with just small touches similar to Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze elevating it to an oddity. Burning Heart is the most obvious attempt at a crowd pleaser. References to Buddy Holly sit well with a lightly ascending and descending glissando and an easy-to-recite chorus make it memorable enough for any crowd to attempt a bit of a sing along. Musically it’s as quirky as the lyrics, odd rhythms and fragments sounding at times incomplete, the main flaw being the occasional mismatched fart of the synth, as out-of-place in some of these songs as it would be if a child had sat on a Casio.
In fact, it’s the songs without all the bells and whistles that deserve the most attention. Title track Fossils has the moodiness of Desert Hearts and a wistfulness that’s made for late-night listening. On Record slowly builds, slightly disjointed ghostly harmonies raising hopes for a fuller melody that never quite appears, but the promise is almost enough. Nellis’ voice – mostly used for wry quips and gentle storytelling throughout the album – comes into its own in Twelve Signs but once again, it’s a song that never really goes anywhere. ‘Fossils’ is very much an album of the moment, light and melodic enough to suit the fleeting good weather of the Irish summer but it remains to be seen if it’ll be a go-to choice in six months time.