A molten extension of Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth, the Stooges‘ drill-press rhythms, and early Dinosaur Jr., Raise should have been made by young record shop rats from the Midwest. Adding to this is a fascination with the open road; only two of the album’s nine songs do not directly reference cars or driving. It’s no real surprise, then, that this Oxford, England-based band found a home on Stateside turntables that were otherwise Anglophobic, despite being pigeonholed as shoegazers. In all fairness, the band was about as exciting to watch as any actual shoegaze band, and Adam Franklin‘s vocals were buried deep within the studio and live mixes. (Flying leg kicks, windmills, and eye contact couldn’t have been all that possible with an unwieldy battery of effects pedals at the feet.)
The lead tracks from the preceding EPs Son of Mustang Ford, Rave Down, and Sandblasted bolster Raise‘s appeal significantly, but the six new songs are of equal or near-equal quality and surround the earlier material in a complementary manner that make the album conducive to beginning-to-end playback, from the gnarled, divebombing guitars and tumbling drum intro of “Sci-Flyer” to the slow fade of the lazy “Lead Me Where You Dare.” Jimmy Hartridge‘s and Adam Franklin‘s guitars soar and seer through rusted jangles and scorched riffs, yet the album is largely driven by Adi Vines‘ thick, roving lines. And though they are buried to the point of serving merely as another instrument, Franklin‘s vocals are ideal for the band’s sound and themes, like those of a road trip junkie made weary by exhaust fumes, brutal heat, amphetamines, and heartbreak: “Been driving for days to take the pain away.” A fantastic debut, and the band wasn’t even close to full power.
— Andy Kellman, AllMusic