The Mariner’s Children are a folk-rock band with a produced, modern feel. If time were short and you wanted a pull-quote at the start, we’d say they were like a cross between Mumford & Sons and Arcade Fire, with the cosy familiarity of the former and some of the epic intensity of the latter. Some of their faster, more rousing numbers make us think of the Waterboys circa Fisherman’s Blues and tracks such as We Will Not Be Lovers, which showed pretty effectively what a British postpunk band approximating Bob Dylan’s famed “wild mercury sound” might sound like. It Carved Your Name Into the Ground, the lead song on the Mariner’s Children’s forthcoming debut EP, New Moore Island – named after a small territory that caused a dispute between India and Bangladesh, because they are nothing if not thoughtful types – has the same stirring sense of a bunch of players buzzing off each other’s performances and willing each other on to new heights. Eventually they create something – using accordions, mandolins, harps, guitars and drums – with the visceral attack of rock and the rhythmic propulsion and thrilling momentum of dance.
It Carved … isn’t the lead song on the EP, or at least it isn’t the one that opens proceedings, but it is the one we like best and that best shows where we’d like them to end up: as purveyors of lovingly crafted music with anthemic uplift and widescreen ambition. Then again, we’re listening to that first track now – Coal – and we can hear a similar swelling energy as the music moves from folkish intimacy towards a more dynamic spaciousness. It seems they share our own vision: they’ve been recording at 2kHz Studios, a converted church in London, with producer Ian Grimble, who has worked with the Manic Street Preachers and McAlmont & Butler, and so clearly the intention is to elevate them beyond the status of worshipful archivists of ancient traditions. Their lineup, according to their MySpace page, includes a calligrapher and elephant wood engraver – and the Mariner’s Children do have an artsy, boho Brighton craft-fair feel to them, a grainy woodiness you can touch. But you don’t for a moment sense that they intend to remain a local, insular concern. The band that began as Bert Jansch and Pentangle fans and grew and grew as more and more members from across southern England joined, and who fashion their epic songs of wonder and wanderlust via email, now potentially have a whole world of room in which to roam.