The first breaths of the opening title track to Auction for the Promise Club’s debut, full-length studio album, Silence, allude to the vivid sense of dynamics presented across much of the record. Indeed, if there’s one thing that sets this Southwest-based band apart from other UK indie rock outfits of a similar ilk, it’s their willingness and ability to toy with textures in a way that is all the more admirable when bearing in mind that it is only three people crafting these sounds, and the introductory moments of the group’s debut LP convey this in an instantly striking fashion. The initial waft of gentle, droning ambience, smatterings of rhythmic static and descending, instrumental groans provide the dense, sonic basis on which the succeeding moments of this first song are built. The initial shades of distorted, searing melody are introduced before the electronic rumbles in the background begin to assume a more mechanical, rhythmic form, whilst a quivering whistle of whirling noise bubbles over the top. As the pummelling tom-tom drumming enters to reinforce the crackling noise that established the song’s beat up until this point, the layers of sonic convulsions subtly crescendo until the whole band finally bursts in at full force. Of course, it’s nothing entirely new for an alternative rock record to open by teasing the listener with a flurry of surging electronics designed for maximising tension, but in the case of Silence, the ambient wash of drones, buzzes and hisses is constructed in an impressively detailed fashion that is indicative of the rich dynamic quality of the best moments in the tracklisting, with the ensuing main body of the title track being a prime example of this. The initial outbreak of driving drums and crunchy, desert rock-tinged guitars atop the heavenly synth drones and subtle clutter of beeping electronics gives way to a more tame and true blue indie rock sound, with frontwoman Zoe White Chambers’ dreamy, slightly folk-inspired vocals taking the helm, as the subdued, clean guitar lines provide support. With the song’s intertwining passages of fiery rock fervour and sweet indie balladry, Auction for the Promise Club play with dynamics more so on ‘Silence’ than any other point on the record, decorating the mix with blissful synths, looming strings and noodling guitar licks that edge the track towards its explosive climax.
Although no other track on Silence quite manages to reach the dynamic density of the title track, there are plenty of stand-out moments when it comes to Auction for the Promise Club’s ability to effectively translate a burning sense of vibrancy in their songwriting and energy in their performances. ‘See Through’, for instance, contrasts Chambers’ soft and silky vocals with roaring power chords, punchy bass grooves and squeaky synths, whilst the song’s bridge sees a low-key build-up give way to a gut punch of a punctuated beat switch. In fact, the counterpoint that Chambers’ sleek singing provides to the vigorous instrumentals across Silence is often the driving force behind the vitality of many of the record’s most spirited moments. The way in which the singer’s melodically-detailed vocals soar above the syncopated drumming and guitar freak-outs of the chorus to ‘This May Hurt’, or provide a touch of light against the eerie, swirling guitar tinkering of ‘Ghosts’, vitalise the already detailed instrumentals of such tracks with a valuable extra layer of shading. Similarly, although it would seem that Auction for the Promise Club’s artistic influences differ little from those of many other indie rock acts, a handful of these inspirations work their way into the group’s songwriting in such a way as to support many of the cuts across Silence with a satisfying amount of stylistic variation, even on an individual basis. The pounding drum work and propulsive bass groove during the verses of Dancer, for example, retain a distinct post-punk flavour, especially when paired against the icy synth lines, whilst nevertheless, rather aptly, sustaining an element of danceability that comes together in a way that is somewhat evocative of dance-rock outfits like New Order. When adding the emo-pop-esque chorus into the equation, ‘Dancer’ stands as one of Auction for the Promise Club’s most impressive and stylistically-diverse endeavours across the tracklisting.
Whilst Auction for the Promise Club adhere rather closely to an archetypal indie and pop rock blueprint, the band can surely be given credit for the noticeable and sufficient effort made to pepper even the more formulaic songs across the album with enough interesting ideas to still cogently engage the listener, whether this be through some quirky instrumental additions or compositional left-turns that go over rather well. ‘City’, as an example, has the veneer of a standard indie rock tune, but the inclusion of deep, wobbly synth lines, guitar countermelodies and looming strings throughout the song gradually expand the mix in a way that is unlikely to allow any one idea or motif to grow stale. This is true to an even greater extent when factoring in the numerous twists and turns taken in the songwriting, which comes to a peak during the off-the-wall bridge section, comprised of hypnotic, robotic vocals proclaiming, “No one’s in control”, atop a drum-driven jam performed in an unorthodox time signature. ‘Isn’t It Enough’ is successful for similar reasons, in that the song is built on the usual sticky vocal melodies and searing guitar riffs that feature across much of Silence, but augment them in a particularly gripping fashion. Indeed, Silence demonstrates that Auction for the Promise Club are willing to apply their eclectic influences into similarly varied songwriting styles and arrangements that, when followed through with a capable amount of focus, makes for some exceptionally engaging moments.
Ultimately, for a debut album, Silence lays down the groundwork for a sound that flaunts Auction for the Promise Club’s compositional chops and ear for sweet, infectious melodies in a considerably captivating manner. The group’s overall abilities, translated through exuberant performances and finely-tuned melodic details, sustain the album’s charm, making for a debut that is both sweet and charismatic, whilst revealing a host of striking and absorbing intricacies below the surface.