With a sound that is lush with a mix of alt-country, punk and pop, as well as songs that come across like vignettes of the lives of the band, Calling Morocco’s debut album has a lot going for it from start to finish. I had read that they’re a bit like the Gaslight Anthem, but to me there is one band that stands out much more when listening to this album, and that is Pollen, especially their wonderful Peach album. In fact, one other band that comes to mind is Doctor Bison, a much overlooked UK band which featured members of Leatherface, the Abs and HDQ amongst their number.
Just as Pollen managed to create something that was vibrant and energetic whilst at times maintaining an almost imperceptible air of calm and control, Calling Morocco have also been able to channel that same kind of approach in producing 11 tracks that take you on a journey through life. With the songs seeming to be like short stories, the lyrics paint pictures and conjure up images at will whilst never getting beyond themselves into the area of being too clever.
The opening track “Summer” conveys the warmth that one associates to that season, especially for those who live in a more hot climate than the UK, as it states, “This night is done, we’ll scorch our lungs, we’ll greet the sun," as it bounces along with the keyboards adding to the general up-tempo nature and feel of the song.
Quick on the heels follows “Pale Blue”, a more melancholic tune which nonetheless maintains a healthy pace to provide the album with one of its strongest tracks. “Porch Lights” and “Break Your Heart” again offer songs that hint at what Calling Morocco could do if they wanted a bit more of a straightforward punk/rock approach in their music as they both manage to offer slightly different glimpses of their capabilities, musically and lyrically.
The mid-point of the album sees the country sound kicking in a bit more on “Long Time Listener” and with the gravelly vocals of Kyle Olsen adding some grit, the song has quite an interesting and enjoyable quality to it.
This country element is prevalent at the start of “Pouring Rain”, where Olsen’s vocals kick into a slightly rockier song which although just under four minutes long seems much shorter and is a very catchy song.
Although the album has the occasional song that doesn't keep the quality as high as the tracks above, taken as a whole this is a collection of sheer of enjoyment, both that of the band in doing what they do and from myself as the listener, drawn into scenarios as a good book can often do but with some eminently listenable music to back it up. Outside Providence could almost be split as an A side and B side, both with a different description as one would have a more punchier set of songs (A) whilst the more country sounding tracks would feature on the other side (B). What cannot be ignored is that this is a damn fine album which should appeal to fans of bands like the Gaslight Anthem, the Hold Steady, Drag the River and the Blacklist Royals to name but a few. However, if you like Pollen’s Peach album, then seek this out as it’s got that same sort of feel.