Maurice Flavel’s Intensive Care caught our attention with their classification of gospel grunge which is really not something you see every day. While this first grabbed us, their 10-track album ‘Heal Me’ finished us off and has left us wondering where the band has been all this time. The atmospheric tracks form an epic that would be perfect for a cowboy movie.
Combining ethereal voices with grungy guitars, the band takes you on a journey that nurtures your spirit back to health. Consisting of Maurice Flavel (vocals), Stefan Hamilton (bass), Peter Gordon (guitar), Miles Hitchcock (drums) and David Sireon (keyboard), the band hits you with themes of healing and redemption. All of this is offered on the backdrop of gospel choirs and rock sounds.
The album starts with ‘Circle Song’ which draws you in with a deep beat and chiming cymbals. The humming vocals add to the vibe of the song before Flavel’s gruff voice hits you. The melody has this dark western vibe to it that hits you with a darkness which is slowly parted through the song. The vocals have a menacing tone that highlights the lyrics.
‘Once We Loved’ has a lighter tone to the opening with these delicate piano notes. The vocals also have a lighter tone to them while the melody resting below has a dark funky vibe. The deep and dark vibes give way at times for this crescendo of sound that hits you like a wall of sonic enjoyment before you sink back to the slower tones. The lyrics of this track are not as dark as the melody makes you think.
‘Move a Mountain’ uses a progressive electric guitar opening to grab your attention. The melody of this track really drives the rock sound of the band which is not as heavy on the previous songs. The pulsing guitar warps its way through your chest while Flavel’s vocals warble their way into your brain. There is an infectious feeling to this song that makes it a real earworm that sticks in your brain for a long time after you listen to it.
The bass line in the opening of ‘Cover Your Tracks’ sets a laid-back tone for the song. The harmonisations and smooth vocals add to this feeling. There is a flow to this song that you can easily float with. There is an almost laziness to the rhythm while the chorus has you singing along to it. After the drive of the previous song, this is a great way to settle before you move on.
‘100 Miles’ really grabs your attention with Flavel’s vocals which push through over a very light melody. Once you are hooked, the driving guitar hits you from the side and sends you into a different direction. The song has this swinging vibe to it as you are first taken through a longing to a moving away. The guitar line has a darkness to it which works so well with the lighter vocals of the longing moments.
The next track is ‘Poison’ which has a rather interesting opening with a slightly disjointed beat that puts you on the wrong foot. This leads to a fairly creepy vocal performance and some ominous tones in the melody. There is a tension that builds in this song leaving you wondering what is going to happen. The crashing chorus throws you for a loop before you are taken back to those dark tones.
The organ notes of ‘Clear Day’ draw you in while the atmospheric vocals grab you. The airy backing vocals blend with Flavel’s darker vocals for an interesting interplay of light and dark. There is a lot of lightness to this song as it offers you hazy and easy vibes. You can easily relax back into this song at times before you are hit with some heavier notes later on.
‘Love Is the Thing’ hits you with some western style from the first moment with these sad harmonica notes. There is something about this opening line that you can’t help but like. The vocals on this song are different from the rest of the tracks as the backing has an almost choral vibe to it. The celestial choral backing sets Flavel’s vocals up perfectly and makes his performance stand out more. The melody has an easiness to it that matches the choral vocals.
‘Give a Little Love’ brings back the rock vibe with the guitar opening. This is the shortest track on the album but has this energy about it that really captivates you. The driving guitar makes you move to its rhythm while the vocals offer this melodic thread.
The album ends with the title track ‘Heal Me’ that draws you in with a clapping beat. The imploring tone of the vocals are what gets your attention at first, but the guitar that drives through you steals your focus. There is a great interplay between the vocals and the guitar that has more depth than the relative simplicity makes you think. There is something about this single that fills your chest and will not let you go.
Maurice Flavel’s Intensive Care captivates you with their interplay of light and dark on the album Heal Me. Each song is unique and captivating in its own way, but there is this thread of darkness that lingers on each. While there is a sense of menace, there is also a feeling of nurturing and understanding within each track.