Releasing singles during a global pandemic is difficult enough, dropping a debut album in the midst of all the chaos seems insane, but for James, Oli, Rob and Matt it’s just another day at the office as they look to release their first record Ursa Major. Better known as Marsicans, the Leeds lads are almost the epitome of self-grown indie artists, having spent almost their whole life as a band label free. Still, they’ve managed to develop a huge following filled with fans eagerly anticipating the release of Ursa Major. The whole development of their debut album marks a landmark point in the boy’s careers as gone are the days of recording singles in basements, Marsicans are now following in the footsteps of world-dominating bands such as Coldplay, with the iconic Rockfield studios as the home to the refinement and recording of the album.
Sixteen songs strong, Ursa Major is five years in the making for Marsicans. Despite having a vast back catalogue of fan favourites and single worthy songs, they’ve waited until now to release their debut album and it’s clear to see why. It takes time to build something great, and that’s exactly what they have done. Featuring fresh new tunes, The band have gone in whatever way the music takes them with an eclectic mix of tracks on their new album, following themes of everything from falling in love, social anxiety and getting drunk with mates. This might be a slightly new sounding quartet compared to what gig-goers and festival fans are used, however the ability Marsicans have displayed in uniting so many different sounds into a sleek collection of songs is nothing but pure excitement, and creates an exceptional piece of listening from start to finish.
The record opens with a synthy introduction, leading into the first of their singles on the album, Juliet. Much to fans delight, this is everything you’d expect from the boys. Heavy hitting drums, clean and crisp guitar riffs are woven seamlessly into punchy vocals that will no doubt ensure Juliet makes it into their setlist for future shows. Amongst fans and critics alike, the structure of this album will probably be always up for debate given the few interludes dotted about the record. Whether these were intentional to break up the songs purposely, or just for dramatic effect, Interlude Two or William’s Poem is a short but sweet change of pace between songs and nothing more than a poem enjoyed by the boys post show a few years ago.
It’s not just a poem which offers a change of pace on this album, as on several occasions’ tracks jump from fast paced head bangers such as These Days to a much softer, slower side of the band which most people are still getting used to. Those who are fans of the band will have already heard the final single from the album Someone Else’s Touch, showcasing this new side of Marsicans, who’ve managed to produce the sound so well, it seems practically effortless. It might not be the usual indie anthem that the boy’s usually play in their live sets, however there’s a certain aura around this track that might just help it make the main stage alongside the usual fan favourites. Another, perfectly placed, pace change greets listeners at the end of the record with the toe-tapping banger Leave Me Outside transitioning to the closing song on the album Should’ve Been There. The calm close to the album is just what’s needed after an exquisite display of the band’s talents, sharing nothing but a joyful journey from start to finish when listening to this album.
For most bands, a change in your usual sound that fans already love and debuting a fresh vibe on your first album is a risk most artists would never think to take, but Marsicans aren’t most artists. It’s clear the quartet took a leap of faith with their debut album, and it’s a leap which paid off. By managing to create music which they not only love to play, but sound good doing so, this debut album paints a pretty picture for the future of the band. Ursa Major is a perfectly balanced mix of sounds, stories and sing-along indie hits from start to finish. Whether you’d already planned on listening to this album as a die-hard fan, or you only thought the name Marsicans belonged to a great bear, this 16 track, effortless display of pure music talent, should be saved to your library in a heartbeat.
If you’re a fan of music, get used to hearing the name Marsicans, as if Ursa Major is anything to go by, there’s big things coming for the boys from Leeds.