Just like the Norse explorer that (most probably) inspired his new band’s sobriquet, Londoner Sam Felix Johnston is closing in on something new and exciting. In the intervening years between the split of once-hyped quartet-then-trio Flashguns and the release of Leaf Erikson‘s statement of intent ‘Flying High’, the fledgling frontman was eerily quiet. So quiet, in fact, that the return of his throaty croon and spikily intricate fretwork hit us with a welcome wave of nostalgia upon initial upload in January.
‘Passions Of A Different Kind’, his former group’s under-loved debut LP, had flashes of Cure and Smiths-informed brilliance – but this time around there are different 80s influences at play. ‘Looking For Signs’ struts with an effortless Americana vibe that is vaguely Tom Petty-ish, albeit by way of Kings of Leon‘s cavernous, stadium-dwelling rock. Gone is the teenage exhuberance and bustling arrangements of those Stephen Street-produced early Flashguns demos, and like Bombay Bicycle Club (to whom they were often compared) sophistication suits them. Riffy and self-assured, the sound of this new incarnation threatens to be a bold discovery.