The Travelling Band are a Manchester five-piece who greet you in traditional Mancunian style – a strong, warm intro is instinctively satisfying and applies well to the start of their latest track ‘Last Night (I Dreamt of Killing You)’, which begins in one ear and quickly blossoms outwards through the use of jangly guitar and a gutsy buzz of sax.
From forthcoming album ‘SAILS’, due 25th August on Sideways Saloon, this is a single of sensuous sound, evocatively exploring a controversial topic through music. The song, similar to a dark comedy, brings life to a story of the nightmarish-kind, based on a dream that lead singer Jo Dudderidge had where he killed his girlfriend – in a heady mix of love and loss combined.
The initially mellow vocals sigh ‘I was done with life,’ as they tell a tale of emotional breakdown, with contemplations then almost instantly re-directing towards ideas of new beginnings and strained positivity: “But I was hoping to come back, spend some years on my own.” Arriving after an almost half-gasp breath, the illusion of contentment is immediately shattered, with Dudderidge revealing the real intention behind the lyric: “…Second guessing myself and a love we used to know together.”
This starting uncertainty smashes into a chorus early in the mix, with an anthemic “Last night I dreamt of killing you,” set on raising the stakes. Backed by a creative blend of saxophone and guitar, amidst the sombre subject matter, this works as if to highlight the chaotic clash of emotions which can become destructive in a relationship.
It is as if this track is a tale through the jumping, spiralling thoughts thumping around in people’s heads whilst in particularly intense relationships. The awareness that it was also inspired by the emotionally-eccentric protagonist of ‘The Catcher in The Rye’, Holden Caulfield, also adds to the experience, I think.
The sound is not the only rousing quality though – as the imagery created also stands out. Clever lyrics personify the weather and nature, adding to the claustrophobic quality of the subject, with great effect. Take the lines, “Captured the morning in, breathing its way through the twilight, with a shady smile.” These are simple, yet carefully-crafted lyrics which lure the listener into a soundscape of simultaneously simmering desire – as well as something sinister. The declaration, “You bought a two-way ticket to a certain kind of love” is also a resonant image.
What particularly stands out for me in this track though, rather than the content of the lyrics, is the combination of voluminous vocals and upbeat melodies. With Dudderidge’s voice reminding me a little of Tim Booth, this is a vocalist who has what it takes to sashay his tone between the layers of affection and aggression – the states of intensity this song suggests may not be as far apart as you first think.
This is a challenging track but keeps its catchiness – and there’s a final contrast between a more brooding stretch of reflection, topped off with a striking rendition of the chorus, complete with harmonies. It’s proof that The Travelling Band not only know what it takes to invite us in with their introductions, but hold onto the ear at the end.
Shorter than some of their previous soundscape-seeming tracks, ‘Last Night (I Dreamt of Killing You)’ may have benefited from a slightly longer length to explore the concept being constructed at the beginning, but the musicianship and swaying sax still allows for such intensity and absurdity to be highly satisfying.
The new album ‘SAILS’ is available to pre-order now via Music Glue.
The Travelling Band’s upcoming gigs are as follows:
1st November – Prince Albert, Brighton
2nd November – Thekla, Bristol
3rd November – Forg & Fiddle, Cheltenham
4th November – Shipping Forecast, Liverpool
10th November – Cluny, Newcastle
11th November – The Hug & Pint, Glasgow
12th November – The Mash House, Edinburgh
16th November – Soundhouse, Leicester
17th November – The Deaf Institute, Manchester
18th November – Blue Sky Cafe, Bangor
21st November – Borderline, London
23rd November – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
26th November – Bodega, Nottingham