The Institutes have delivered one of the best guitar debuts of 2021
The Coventry band’s debut album Colosseums is full of warm, 90s inspired rock anthems and shoegaze tunes.
Upon asking for new music suggestions one uninspired October midweek afternoon, the most popular new choice was for a band named The Institutes and their debut album Colosseums. Having had the album recommended by a few "trusted" sources (with so much new music you have to have them!) I went in with quiet optimism.
Despite containing a certain degree of expectation, I was completely blown away by the quality of the music from the first second to the last. It was love at first listen, finding the record to be instantly accessible and one I'd constantly repeat over the coming days and weeks.
Having not heard of them until a month ago, it feels fitting to introduce the band. The Institutes are made of Reid Zappa Currie (vocals and guitar), Andy Hall (guitar), Kirk Savage (drums) and Andy Lowe (bass). The album itself is named after a legendary Coventry nightclub (The Colosseum) and their music has been described by BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq as “La's-esque, with an ear for a big chorus”.
The iconic BBC DJ knows a thing or two about great bands and he’s definitely not wrong in his assessment here. The Institutes produce feel-good, indie-pop anthems, both catchy and euphoric in nature. Part of this charm is down to their influences, with a sprinkling of The Smiths, Doves, The Smiths and The Stone Roses being heard throughout. It’s all comes together for a heartfelt 38-minute journey with infectious songs about common themes of love and heartbreak.
In my October indie review, I urged readers to “give these boys a listen, you won’t be disappointed…this is British guitar rock at its best”. Whilst I confess to getting carried away from time to time and eventually re-evaluating my initial hype on certain albums and bands, a few weeks on and I’m still feeling this record as much as I did when I was giving out my initial gushing praise. The songs are anthemic and shoegazey, hopeful music with textured melodies and jangly guitars that'll have you coming back for more time and again.
‘All That You’ll Ever Know’ gets the balling rolling perfectly, an energetic opener with a twinge of melancholy. ‘Alleyways’ is sweet and romantic, up there with the best on record and even played at a recent Manchester City match. ‘Something Beautiful’ follows on, more ominous in sound and yearning in subject matter.
‘Inside Out’ has a certain heavenly shoegaze quality, Reid berating the fading state of a relationship and pouring scorn on the ambivalence of his romantic partner (“I give you everything, you give me nothing…all of the love we had is fading”). The frustrated feelings are well compensated with it being one of the biggest and most euphoric chant-a-long bangers on the album.
'Feels Like It's Raining Again' is another heartfelt, shoegaze effort, greeting us like a warm hug to make us realise everything is going to be alright. 'I Just Can't Keep Myself From Loving You' is one of my favourites on the record, a song about being feeling conflicted in a relationship and features a beautiful melody that can't resist a singalong.
'Better Now' brings the album to a close, slowed down but no less dramatic. Reid Zappa Currie pleads for the end of a toxic relationship, the chorus being repeated during the song's finale to great effect; "the only way I'll get better now, if you leave me on my own". As the song explodes into life, you can't help but feel a sense of euphoria and hope.
The Institutes have produced one of my favourite albums of the year and it's been a while since I've felt such affection for a new band on this scale. The tunes are warm, addictive and hopeful, exploring the messy emotions of a toxic relationship to stunning effect. Give Colosseums a try, you won't be disappointed.