So, four years since their second long-player Do Whatever Turns You On, and the sixth since debut Young Forever, Aberfeldy release their third album. It’s been documented that the inbetween years have seen lineup changes, being dropped by Rough Trade, and having their songs used in adverts for all manner of products, but I know I speak for many when I say that this album has been eagerly awaited for a very long time.
Many of these songs have been present in their live sets for some time – and indeed, I was privileged to hear some of these songs played by frontman Riley Briggs in demo form when I interviewed him three years ago. And two of the songs – album opener ‘Claire’ and ‘Talk Me Round’ in different form made up the very first release on 17 Seconds Records. ‘Malcolm’ the single has evolved over time -but the ’spot the sixties reference game’ that started when they played it live still remains fun. And ‘In Denial’ has to be one of the best songs Riley Briggs has ever written.
One of the things that rankled as an Aberfeldy fan was the way that they were constantly compared to a certain Glaswegian band. But considering Riley and drummer brother Murray once played together in a Devo covers act, the sense of playing with and subverting pop on ‘Turn The Record Over’ and ‘Lisa Marie’ comes through more strongly than ever. Though seen as Riley Briggs’ vehicle, they definitely play as a band. As well as the aforementioned Briggs brothers, and Ken MacIntosh, the lineup includes guitarist Chris Bradley, who co-produced the album with Riley; and Kirsten Adamson, daughter of Stuart, and leader of Edinburgh’s Gillyflowers.
And instead of writing credits, the final song ‘credits’ is just that: a rollcall of credits for the album. It sums up what I’ve long thought: that Aberfeldy’s sense of humour has been downplayed, but it is now here for the world to see. There will be those who say that it doesn’t sound like Young Forever. No, it doesn’t – it doesn’t need to! It’s been a while in the making, but this third album shows just how vital Aberfeldy remain.