It is somewhat unfortunate - if inevitable - that the media attention surrounding Hope Of The States has concentrated on off-record activities. Firstly, they were the subject of a frantic major label bidding war and then suffered the tragic loss of guitarist Jimmi Lawrence. Under these circumstances it's an achievement that they survived the pressure of finishing a debut album at all. It appears to be a good start too with a debut that sees them weld early Radiohead angst to a background of apocalyptic post-rock noise. Early singles 'Enemies/Friends' and 'Black Dollar Bills' alone would appear to make Sony's new acquisition a worthy one; the former a hand-wringing slice of optimism whereas the latter is covered in epic but beautifully realised despair. Across the course of an hour their talents prove to be no fluke either with winning anthems like the military-paced whinge-rock of '66 Sleepers To Summer', the gutsy 'Nehemiah' and the impassioned send-off '1776' all impressing. Unsurprisingly there is a tendency for the music to be overblown but the post-rock by-numbers 'The Black Amnesias' and the keening, overwrought 'Me Ves Y Sufres' are mere blips. Despite those few flaws the hype is - for once - justified.