As the opening, titular track washes past, there is something in the soft edged vocals and the rich guitar textures that roughly fixes The Black Watch’s sonic pathway. It’s the same one walked by any number of jangling eighties musical mavericks who found the majestic tones of the Byrds in their parents record collections and who set about making it over for a new audience. And why not, it’s an iconic sound. Post-punk infused with psychedelia, pop melodies wrapped in indie dreamscapes.
Paper Boats is a wonderful four track blast through what The Black Watch do so well. They look back to the 1960s while veiling their music in more contemporary trappings such as reverb-drenched guitars, trebly production, and the occasional squall of noise. Oh You Little Witch is a wonderful blend of rhythm section energy and The Cure’s less quirky moments, and like them it reminds us that The Black Watch may feel like a band slightly out of step with fashion, which is oh course a good thing, but it wouldn’t take much for them to find them championed in more commercial climes.
Jingle Jangle 2 is buoyant and brilliant but it is final cut of the collection Your So Dark Sleep which is the most interesting and less conventional song here. Brooding and raw bass lines are balanced against chiming guitars, there is drive and drama, and an unexpected change of pace as the e.p. comes to a close.
Music is cyclical and The Black Watch is proof that if you stick to your sonic guns, fashion will eventually catch up with you, though I suspect that isn’t even in the thoughts of the band when making music. But with a modern crop of indie bands looking back to the eighties to inspire their sound, just as those bands also looked back to find their sonic building blocks, The Black Watch must surely be positioned to move out of the “cult and underground” column and be carried over into the “why have I not heard of this band before” column. With the right people championing their cause, a bit of luck and the right tail wind and they might even find themselves in the “new and emerging” section of the mainstream market, which would be kind of ironic considering how long they have been releasing such great music.