"I guess in some small way I'm trying to give post-industrial Lanarkshire a place in culture." MARTIN HENRY
Thirty months is a long time by anyone's standards but given their lead singer's aspirations, it was unlikely that De Rosa's follow up to "Mend" was going to be rushed. Finally complete and packaged with original artwork by Glasgow's literary titan Alasdair Gray, 'Prevention' builds on the promise of their debut and goes some way towards establishing De Rosa as one of the most accomplished and (dare we say it) cerebral bands writing today.
Following the critical acclaim heaped on their debut (one of MOJO's Albums of 2006), and the drafting in of an additional member (Andy Bush), the band set about perfecting their unique blend of urban, parochial folk and angular, twisted guitar lines, enhanced considerably this time round with layers of keyboards and electronica.
"The scratchy, falling-apart sound of parts of 'Mend' frustrates me sometimes, so with 'Prevention' I wanted to make something that was prettier and heavier at the same time. We were more interested in layers of vocals and instruments, with an emphasis on percussion, not just guitar...there are definitely a lot more keyboards on this one too..."
Given De Rosa's frequent referencing of Lanarkshire in their work, it is perhaps no surprise that Alasdair Gray, artist and author of 'Lanark' (hailed by The Guardian as "one of the landmarks of 20th-century fiction") was drafted in to paint the band's portrait for the cover art. The cover features the band alongside a map of Lanarkshire, Martin's acoustic guitar and a copy of their debut album...
"The portraits were painted first, then there was the idea of a table with some meaningful objects. The map and the copy of 'Mend' came from Alasdair a little later on and I remembered there being an old map lying about Chem19, where we recorded the album. The guitar in the image is my little acoustic. I write all of the De Rosa demos on it." MARTIN HENRY
Acoustic guitars are certainly a prominent feature of the album, tracks like 'Pest' and 'Swell' recalling the melancholic beauty of early Neil Young, but it's the subtle infusion of drum machines and electronic layering that sets 'Prevention' apart: if it is folk, it's a thoroughly modern incarnation with rippling keyboards and syncopated beats as material as the poetically nuanced lyrics. With guest performances from Life Without Building's Robert Johnson and Mogwai's Barry Burns, 'Prevention' is an intensely rewarding and poetic triumph from a band that has resolutely pursued its own unique vision and grown immeasurably in stature as a result.
Lanarkshire doesn't know how lucky it is.
Barry Burns (Mogwai)...
"It can be quite worrying when you place the new album by a band you're totally besotted with into the CD and press 'play'. Never has this anxiety been stronger than with 'Prevention': it's not that I didn't think they would make a great record as such, it was more, "How could they improve upon such a great debut?" As it turns out, I needn't have bothered my arse worrying because I realised, after playing it twice in a row, that it was a distilled and perfectly developed rendering of what they had been all about in the first place. I seriously count it as one of the biggest honours of my career to have been asked to play some piano on this sublime recording."