Issy Packer

Freelance music editor based in Bristol and Cornwall. If you see me shout as I’ll probably have my headphones on.

Label: Isolar Records

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Formed as a lockdown project by vocalist Tiger Nicholson and guitarist James Donovan, Bishopskin has since expanded into a nine-piece lineup.

Following the release of their debut EP in 2020, ‘Babble‘ sees the release of their first full-length album.

The avant-garde band are known to have played with genres throughout their musical history and the opening track is no different. ‘Ava Maria‘ is an expansive track, a truly brilliant opener to the album. A polar opposite from the well-known Schubert classic, the track is textured with folk sounds, church choir offerings and soft-rock all fused into it.

The song showcases the uniqueness of the band and the rest of the album continues to show the diversity of Bishopskin.

Mothers Steel Bike‘ falls into a softer realm for the nine-piece; sounds of trumpets, maracas and repetitive vocals give the track an other-wordly feel. Meanwhile, ‘BSB‘ relies heavily on the sound of the guitar and violin, an unlikely duo that feel Spanish in origin; you might imagine hearing a local singing it on his guitar in a small European town.

Hey Little Sister‘ sees the return of the violin; it lulls you into a fall sense of security, a misdirect as it launches into a heavier, earthier sound.

Tiger Nicholson’s vocals are captivating, a highlight on every track of the album, but particularly on ‘Born pt.2‘. His gravelly vocals move from harmony to spoken-word effortlessly, pushing against any constraints and pulling the listener in like a cult leader.

Come Home‘ is a a different tale altogether. A rendition of ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot‘, the track moves from being a traditional soft hymn into a guitar, folk-rock riff and it’s all the sweeter for it.

Even when Nicholson’s vocals are at the forefront of a track, such as ‘Stella Splendens‘ and ‘Holy Mary‘, his voice permeates, pairing nicely with the female vocalists. The juxtaposition between the soft-hymn like voice and Nicholson’s gritty vocals are a match made in heaven.

The final few tracks lose their way slightly, moving into a more ordinary sound that isn’t doesn’t feel as experimental or as exciting as the previous singles.

The closing track, ‘Jerusalem‘, is the antithesis of the very first song. Slow and moving, the track relies heavily upon Nicholson’s vocals alongside the gentle sound of a piano and is a poignant end to the album.

Babble‘ is a stunning debut album from a band that is as exciting as they are unique.

‘Babble’ is out tomorrow via Isolar Records.

Let us know what you think!