Label: Killing Moon Records
Release Date: 14th August 2020
“Their ability to create refined, yet anthemic and raucous tracks time and time again is unmatched, and each one is guaranteed to pin a smile on your face.”
Marsicans are arguably the brightest star in the hypothetical sky that is the Leeds music scene, making it all the more fitting that their debut album takes its name from the constellation, Ursa Major. An album that has been a long time in the making, it comes at the end of six years of graft for the four-piece who have quickly risen to local legend status. With more singles and EPs than you could imagine, alongside relentless touring over the years, the band adopted the perfect formula to pre-empt the release of their first album. Having worked their way into the hearts of an army of fans, there was no doubt that the release would be well-received.
Of course, that reception is completely deserved. Ursa Major is a testament to the band’s growth over the years, pushing their sound in completely new directions. Renowned for their unique brand of feel-good indie, Ursa Major sees them change the pace somewhat. Ushered in with a tranquil instrumental introduction, they soon lurch into the explosively earnest ‘Juliet’.
From there, they quickly expand beyond their usual upbeat offerings – ‘Dr Jekyll’ is without a doubt one of their strongest releases to date. Reminiscent of the earlier days of indie, it’s powerful and analytical. This seems to be a theme of the album – whilst before their songs were largely tongue-and-cheek and cheerful, their lyrics take a somewhat more serious turn, perhaps because they have the space to be now.
‘Summery in Angus’ is a slice of classic Marsicans. Something about the band seems to exist in technicolour; their every release finds itself in neon tones, making you long for summers spent in the fields of Bramham Park. A number of tracks on the album follow this pattern – ‘Can I Stay Here Forever (p.II)’ is a prime example of this. Drenched in optimism and euphoria, the band are masters of the art of festival-ready song – they’re destined to have a crowd full of people on one another’s shoulders as soon as they can be.
‘These Days’ marks a change for the band, however. Whilst it retains the sing-along, chirpy nature they are known for, its lyrics see the band spinning a widely relatable tale of anxiety and communication. The highlight comes in the form of the track’s bridge – dizzily lurching guitars and brutally honest lyrics, it feels completely bewitching. ‘These Days’ perfectly straddles the line between infectious and important, something that Marsicans continue to do adeptly.
Soaring from jangly indie-pop tones to harder-hitting, drum-heavy tracks, the band manage to meld the different avenues the album travels immaculately together to create the ultimate summer album. There is a reason they are so beloved – and it isn’t just their flawless harmonies, or the Yorkshire accents (no, I’m not biased). Their ability to create refined, yet anthemic and raucous tracks time and time again is unmatched, and each one is guaranteed to pin a smile on your face.
Ursa Major proves that they have the skill and passion to extend their capabilities beyond just feel-good – presenting us with a more raw, multi-faceted version of the band, Marsicans shine in every iteration of their sound. Ursa Major is completely fluorescent.
Words by Neive McCarthy.
17th August 2020.