Release date: November 10, 2017
Foreign Skies, Dreadnoughts’ fifth album, represents a more grown-up band. Coming after a six-year hiatus, it is more sombre than anything the Vancouver folk-punks have released before.
Sombre is possibly the last word you’d use to describe the band’s previous albums. Manic, frenetic, joyous, drunken? Sure. But, not sombre. That new element will be surprising to veteran fans but makes sense for an older band tackling dark subject matter: World War One. While you’ll still find the same skillfully executed, foot-stomping blend of folk, polka, punk and more, be prepared for a very different vibe.
The album opens with the emphasis firmly at the folk end of the folk-punk scale. Although Foreign Skies is a WW1 concept album, ‘Up High’ wouldn’t be out of place on an episode of Sharpe. Things kick up a gear on the second track, though, treating us to some of the blistering pace we’ve come to expect from the Dreadnoughts.
The songs here are suitably serious, given the subject matter, but in taking that step, the Dreadnoughts have lost some of their old joie de vivre — which is a shame. It may be down to the subject matter – it’s hard to be raucous when dealing with mass slaughter — but Foreign Skies is more subdued than the band’s other albums. It’s a sharp maturation, from poutine, cider and revelry to trenches, mud and death.
Stream/buy Foreign Skies by the Dreadnoughts on CD, vinyl or digital download via Bandcamp.
See the Dreadnoughts live at the Rickshaw Theatre on Friday, November 24.