When Pocket Promise released their first EP 'Waving at Strangers' last year, it was obvious that they were a band positively bubbling with ideas, but perhaps not the expertise on how best to put them into practice. Even under the watchful eye of experienced producer Dave Odlum, the result was a brief collection of songs that undoubtedly flared with potential, but were perhaps slightly too vociferously in thrall to their heroes (Snow Patrol, Arcade Fire, Radiohead).
The Tyrone band have apparently taken pointers on board for the recording of their debut 'I've Been Here for Ages', though. Once again, recorded with Odlum, this is an album that, for the most part, sees the five-piece stamp their own identity onto the quirky indie-rock niche they've been shunted into. One of the most notable differences is that the feyness of lead singer Cormac Fee's voice has been tempered with a more forceful edge; on the scratchy lo-fi tremor of 'Sum of the Parts' and the excellent 'Talkovertalking' with its eccentric bassline and roaring, uplifting chorus, his vocals add to the arrangements, rather than yield to them.
Perhaps inevitably, there are several songs that do see Pocket Promise owe a debt to their heroes. 'If Not the Tide Will Change''s angsty '28 Days Later' atmosphere is a promising opener if a barefaced homage to Mogwai and Radiohead, but their tributes are earnest without being mawkish.
But it's when they slip back into their bumbling, perfectly-nice-but-far-from-fiery setting that Pocket Promise thwart their progress most. Closing brace 'Facing Down' and 'Clocks and Calendars' are both softly sung numbers, but lack the originality that the equally understated 'Sorry' embodies. Still, if nothing else, 'I've Been Here for Ages' is a valiant, mostly brilliant effort that marks the Northern Irish band as real contenders.