There’s a minor element of surprise here. Record Weekly’s band of 2021 is entirely guessable, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it was Strange Bones, after they’ve seized the crowns for top single and album this year already. But as much as they’re a formidable force, the title has to go to a band more intertwined with this explosive, symbolic year itself…
The Ninth Wave have just entered the chat.
Yep, the Scottish four-piece that I first saw inspire a crowd on a sweaty summer’s night at The Wardrobe, Leeds, in 2019 have ignited my imagination even more in 2021. Of course, with their links to the city I’m so attached to and entrenched in now, Glasgow, it simply makes logical sense that they’d pique my interest further. But it’s their unwavering ability to fashion immensely powerful tracks from experimentation with instruments, the collaborative beauty of male and female vocals, and genuinely great hooks that give them their edge.
They’re a unique outfit that can turn their hand to anything, too. Circling back to that 2019 performance I saw, they can put on a rock show. Then fast-forward to October just gone and you’ve got them dazzling the minds of the seated audience at the majestic Òran Mór. They offer something for the discerning ear of every genre and they’re something of Scotland’s rising stars.
This year brought with it the three triumphant singles from the band, each with a dark dash of mystery for good measure. ‘Maybe You Didn’t Know’ proved to be the uplifting, pondering summer anthem we didn’t know we needed, while the warm, tinkling notes of ‘Piece and Pound Coins’, armed with its touching tale of loss, still sends shivers. And it’s remarkable how successful the spine-tingling, accountability-holding ‘What Makes You A Man’ has been in just a couple of months — deservedly so, though. Naturally, it’s a belter.
All while I’ve lapped up this trio of insatiably playable of songs, The Ninth Wave’s back catalogue still packs a punch. ‘Everything Will Be Fine’ delivers comfort wrapped up in hope, while ‘I’m Only Going to Hurt You’ has a common relatability, alongside token thrashes, crashes and yearning vocals that most alternative musicians can only aim for.
Take it right back to ‘Half Pure’ and you’re extended a hand that might as well have come from a mysterious stranger. It has a notion of the unknown but some serious feistiness, too, which makes it right up there with one of their best. I get a similar sense from ‘Human Behaviour’, though there’s something much more sombre about that. Whatever happens, I can’t shake the impulse to listen to ‘New Kind of Ego’, ‘Sometimes the Silence is Sweeter’ and ‘This Broken Design’ either — I could lose my voice for following my lungs’ desire to belt out the lyrics of these.
While I’m here to celebrate what The Ninth Wave bring to the table, in a semi-succinct fashion, I urge you to get fully acquainted with their music if you aren’t yet. They’re just something else, and I have to thank them for supplying banger after banger, especially in such a monumental year that’s revolved around a dramatic pull towards the Clyde.