Head here to submit your own review of this album.

You can't really blame Communion Records for sticking with a certain sound, I suppose. Formed in 2010 by Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons they struck gold very quickly with the discovery, for better or worse, and signing of the likes of Ben Howard, that professional careerist and shameless trend-follower Jay Jay Pistolet (you might know him a little better now as the singer in The Vaccines) and Michael Kiwanuka, while they can also take a bit more credit for being involved with the music of Daughter, Nathaniel Rateliff and Caveman.

It's that Communion sound, though, that gets me: earnest, tweed-clad, gravelly-voiced folk music, and the further you go down the label's roster, it becomes pretty clear that the quality is on the wane. Back in 2010, Matthew Hegarty was Communion's first ever signing, under his own name, before becoming the act we now know as Matthew and the Atlas. Despite being with the label for four years it's only now we're seeing the release of the band's debut album Other Rivers. Unfortunately, it's not really been worth the wait.

I will say this for Hegarty: he's got quite the voice. Coincidentally it does often bear a resemblance to his namesake Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons when he hits on that quivering yet soulful vibrato, and then at other points there's a pleasing gravelly tone which imbues some of the tracks with a world-weary appeal. Too often, though, this feels like folk music on cruise control despite the attempts to introduce subtle electronic elements to the background of many of the songs, like a Fence Collective recording gone a bit wrong.

But let's focus on the positives for a moment, for there are a few; 'To The North' has a chime and a swell that's close to irresistible and is dripping with harmony, 'Out of the Darkness' is a gloomy dirge with some beautiful Rhodes piano work and Hegarty's voice enchants and 'Counting Paths' adds glitchy electronics to skeletal and atmospheric guitar. Elsewhere, though, everything disappoints. The opening of 'Into Gold' and 'Pale Sun Rose' is plastic Americana, 'Everything That Dies' is middle of the road stuff you'd find Chris Martin and co peddling and 'A Memory of You' sounds like it was pulled from a pile of Mumford & Sons b-sides: unambitious, unappealing and safe.

In the end, Other Rivers is music at its blandest; not polarising or demanding, simply existing. It often feels like when a genre gets a bit of popularity it instantly becomes an easy choice for artists wanting to "make it"; I'm not saying that's the case with Matthew and the Atlas but I'm left feeling there's a lack of sincerity and honesty in this record. And I don't think there's anything worse than not trying in music.

This is the place you'll find reviews from 405 Readers. To join in, head here.