Looking into the credentials of this band, no secret is made of the fact that they come from the pop-rock sector. ESO is the offshoot of esOterica, whose music was on Radio 1 and Planet Rock amongst others. Apparently the track “We are Watching You” has again received airings on Kerrang! Radio and their video has been playlisted on Scuzz TV. It’s fair to say that most albums I review do not finish up on Radio 1 or Scuzz. There’s nothing at all wrong with this of course. Personally, I’m very happy to listen to and review melodious music, and I appreciate good song structures and musicianship. On the other hand I belong to the minority of people who cannot understand how Coldplay have managed to sell any records.
It would be inaccurate of me to say that this album drifts along, Coldplay fashion, to its oblivious conclusion. Although a similarity of structure and pace is apparent – I should add I am no authority on the 8 letter word beginning with C – “Nothing Left to Lose” is not full of self-indulgent intensity and indeed is pleasant to listen to. In fact it’s so pleasant as to be anonymous. Pure pop tracks like “Running Blind” creep into it. There are positives and moments of unexpected depth here. Strong structures can be found throughout, no more so than on “Remember Me” which sparkles with its subtle vocals and guitar work. Again it’s fundamentally a pop song as are all the tracks which precede it.
It’s a pity however that the mysticism which opens the album up and marches into “Birds in a Hurricane”, the second track, does not continue. There’s a faint aura of Jonas Renske in the vocals. In fact, the mood and delivery reminded me a lot in parts, and especially “We Are Watching You” of Katatonia, but the nature of this work is to head for a melodic chorus, and not to shake us apart or disturb us psychologically. On “The Divide”, I detected a mix of Katatonia again and Clan of Xymox with the timely keyboards and steady but conspicuous beat. The electro beat drives the next track “You’ll Never Know”, yet another Katatonia sound-a-like, at least until the pop-goth chorus strikes in. The only unusual or quirky song is “Brand New Suit”, which has a harmless and Beatle-like simplicity. The vocals on “A New Beginning” are reminiscent of John Lennon but in spite of its chunky rhythm, it doesn’t have a lot going for it. The rest are pop songs, occasionally drifting into rock but essential soft and mellow and suitable for a warm day.
“Nothing Left to Lose” is a nice album. It’s not challenging and could be considered as musical wallpaper. I suspect others will absorb its qualities more than I did, but without ever being in danger of being overcome I found many things to appreciate in it.
(6 /10 Andrew Doherty)