Able Archer describe themselves as “A proper rock band with hardly any ironic beards or cardigans.” which made me like them even before I’d heard a note. They’ve just release their second EP, The Trouble With Strangers.

The Descent, which is the current single from the EP is a big ballad, which manages to carry off an epic string section without sounding contrived. It’s rare enough to get a proper lighters-aloft power ballad into Musician.ie Towers, and this one hits the spot, with soaring vocals, life and death lyrics, peaks and valleys and a new nugget of earcandy in each section. It’s a huge departure from their earlier single Ghostmaker – an absolute belter which shows off the raucous side of  Able Archer. I love how the song goes from sparse and edgy verses to lush choruses soaked in ambience and backing vocals.

The Warden prevents you from getting a bead on the Able Archer sound, as the band strays into dark electronica, Only Love returns to spiky rock, with a vibe lying somewhere between XTC and Joy Division.

You might be forgiven for thinking that the Able Archer sound is a little schizophrenic, but give it a second listen and you’ll start to see the common thread that runs throughout.