Review: Many Things lift off with ‘Burn Together’

Do you like the feeling of unbridled joy? Do you want to feel uplifted, soaring across the sun-dappled sky, all the while gripped snugly in the firm but gentle talons of some of the catchiest pop hooks you’ve ever heard? I have just the thing for you. Many Things actually, the London-based band whose debut album Burn Together is being released today.

If you’ve already had the aural pleasure of experiencing Many Things just yet, I commend you for your excellent taste. If you haven’t, you damn well need to pop this album on right now. (If you want to get to know them a little better first, we got the scoop on their favourite tunes right here)

If that fantastic voice sounds just the slightest bit familiar, you may be recognising it as being that of Michael Tomlinson, formerly of Brisbane indie rockers Yves Klein Blue. When that band reached the end of its natural life in 2010, Tomlinson found his way to London and hooked up with some new bandmates to form Many Things. They became an instant hit following the release of singles Alpha Romeo and Chains last year, proceeding to tour both here and across the pond, all the while recording Burn Together.

Holy Fire kicks the album off, released as a single earlier this year. As far as side one, track ones go it is about an auspicious debut as you can get. The introduction builds to an absolute synth-riddled crescendo before kicking in with the first of what is many absolutely fantastic piano hooks. The Holy Fire might as well be rocket fuel propelling them instantly into the stratosphere, Tomlinson’s unmistakeable voice booming over a pounding backbeat and gorgeously twisting synth-work, a shredder of a guitar solo playing the song out. The mid-song breakdown of ‘throw up your hands now’ just made for a huge festival crowd to clap along to.

Dear One follows it up remarkably. It is an utter toe-tapper and catchier than the clap. It holds a special place in my own heart as one of the most meaningful songs of all of last year with some both fond and not so fond personal memories attached to it. Its upbeat, ABBA-esque piano riff goes some way towards masking some deeply painful lyrics. The thumping electro-style bass that anchors the song is a treat and the chorus will get stuck in your head as soon as you hear it.

The title track is up next, a gorgeous mesh of electronic noise with Tomlinson’s vocals reaching stratospheric heights without fault. The utterly raucous Alpha Romeo follows it, a song that grabs you around the neck and all but hurls you onto the dance floor. The chorus builds to a total frenzy and is wonderfully reminiscent of party jams of yesteryear, Come On Eileen, springing immediately to mind. One of my favourite experiences of last year was showing this song to people for the first time and watching their eyes light up immediately.

Chains brings the mood crashing back to the floor, though it’s no less a beautiful sonic experience than the rest of the album. Big drum beats marching in time with a song just oozing with heartbreak and Tomlinson’s voice audibly cracking with emotion over lyrics like ‘when I talk to anyone, only will remind me of the way, the way we used to talk’. This is another incredibly personal song for me, though the feeling of being impossibly shackled to someone who has broken you rings true for just about anybody.

Almost in defiant response to Chains is I Won’t Run Away On Love, funkadelic space-age synths and wonderful vocal harmonies bringing the mood back up just a little. Slow burner Paranoid People Meet In The Middle is up next, beginning with haunting choral vocals over a minimalistic backbeat and Tomlinson’s usual baritone breaking into a rare falsetto before a wall of synthesiser noise crashes in, you get the vibe of almost floating in space. Some Things Last Forever is familiar Many Things terra firma, vocals and synths soaring hand in hand and defying the laws of gravity, beginning the final turn of the album in majestic and hugely uplifting fashion.

Heaven is a little more raw with organic drum beats and Tomlinson’s voice rising and falling effortlessly. It’s at this point that you have to commend the work of keyboardist Gabi Wilks and drummer Macks Faulkron, Tomlinson might be your captain, but Wilks and Faulkron are working the engine room to have Many Things flying at maximum altitude.

77 is the penultimate track and was released as a late single last week. The organ riff is beautiful, the power-packing choruses spaced by delicate interludes allowing Tomlinson’s voice to shine through as though it hasn’t already all album.

What We Are finishes the album, beginning with background noise from an airport as a subtle nod to the miles Many Things have travelled to get to here. A simple piano and Tomlinson’s voice begin proceedings, the recording quite breathtaking in its initial starkness before being sucked into a wormhole and emerging as a cosmic, almost orchestral reprise of the bridge from Dear One to finish.

I need a cigarette after this. Many, many highs from Many Things on what is a flat out stunning debut. The hype from respected publications in both Australia and the UK is well-deserved and Burn Together is an album that should launch Many Things as high into the musical stratosphere as they did to their listeners. Having seen them nearly rip the roof off of the humble confines of Brisbane’s Alhambra Lounge last year, I am waiting with bated breath for a tour in the near future.

Burn Together is out today via Dew Process