The path ahead for Littlemen follows a distinctly different trajectory than previous incarnations existing under this moniker. The Nick Allen-led iteration of the band’s new single “Visions” solidifies his claim to helming one of the U.K.’s best new syntheses of English and American influences I’ve heard in quite a while. “Visions” stands as one of the undisputable high-water marks in Allen’s ongoing emergence as Littlemen’s band leader and chief songwriter based on an assortment of strengths.
One of those strengths is the song’s layered yet coherent structure. Littlemen doesn’t content itself following one or two ideas for the song’s entirety and, instead, explores a handful of textures during this track. “Visions”, however, never sacrifices an unified sound as a result of that restless creativity. Allen has a clear direction in mind for “Visions” that announces itself from the outset and steers the song’s musical journey with self-assurance galore.
I hear a recording with a full, across-the-board sound. Littlemen doesn’t steamroll listeners but moves with purpose and establishes command over the sonic landscape mere seconds into the song. Allen’s songwriting works with a lot of authority within the British rock/Americana vein. It isn’t an incongruous approach, in the end, because each of those styles values austerity over abundance and Littlemen’s songwriting aesthetic pares everything down to its essence.
Synthesizer and lead guitar solos don’t load the track down with self-indulgence. These spotlight moments play to the purpose of the song rather than as opportunities for a musician to showboat their skills. The synthesizer playing, in particular, surfaces the song with a bright sheen in passages that may have otherwise lacked needed color. Everything serves a purpose during “Visions”. Littlemen doesn’t waste time.
It does come off as slightly gritty yet likewise effervescent guitar rock. Allen does an excellent job juggling his aforementioned influences with artful skill and stamps a personal identity on this song that supersedes his musical debts. “Visions” is his song, through and through, and imitates no one. You come away from this track certain, as well, that the band’s material will always follow this template and never tax the listener’s attention with windy epics.
“Visions” packs a near-knockout punch in its near six-minute running time. It is longer than your average single, but few listeners will find it a laborious listening experience. Over five and a half minutes breeze by in such a way because Allen understands how to perform and arrange a substantive musical composition. It’s lit up with pulse-pounding shifts, dramatic interludes, and rousing melodies that held my attention and brought me back for more after a single listen.
I’ll keep coming back as well. I recognize the true mark of transformative talent burning bright within Littlemen and the band’s future is bright. Allen has teamed with a first-class band to help him flesh out his creative ambitions and carry them further than he could dream, and early salvos such as “Visions” make it obvious that he’s well on his way. It’s an impressive performance and a superb piece of writing.