What is the best thing about ‘A Common Wealth’ and its nine tracks? This Edinburgh band are being a bit evasive about an album that has a lot to offer us, one that consists of songs that range from dippy alt.folk to glacial post-rock, played with more than sufficient adeptness and sounding glossy and epic at the right moments. The 10.04s themselves seem to have slipped into inactivity recently, for reasons known only to themselves, and ‘A Common Wealth’ is really too good an album to just vanish after its release.
Opener ‘Harlequin’ brings a relatively subdued tone to the proceedings, a ballad sung by lead vocalist Steven Bolton and guest multi-instrumentalist Kirstin Adamson, and from the off The 10.04s sound is established, a production clarity that lets each and every instrument make its presence known, from the full drum kit down to the xylophone tinkling away in the background. This works just as well when they decide to up the rock stakes and next track ‘Everything Is Going To Be Alright’ thunders along right up to the piano break and its memorable “Oh no your arms and legs have gone” lyric. Obviously in the tradition of Idlewild/Biffy and having taken noise lessons from Mogwai, the 10.04s are a Rock Band with some vague ambition to share with us.
They could carry it off, too. Veering between balladry and blistering thrash and with a baby grand and a cello on hand to smooth the edges, ‘A Common Wealth’ aims at and mostly succeeds in creating an epic soundscape of the sort that many bands spend their entire careers attempting to make. I don’t have a great amount of info about how and where the album was recorded, and the 10.04s are at present without a record label, a state of affairs that won’t be lasting very long if they keep making albums such as this.