Getintothis Album Club #25: Manic Street Preachers, Jhelisa Anderson, Erland Cooper and more

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Manic Street Preachers

Manic Street Preachers

As the whole world inexplicably lose their marbles over the return of Abba Getintothis’ Album Club is back with new music that really matters.

Ordinarily for Getintothis’ Album Club, your writer sits down a few days (or even hours to be honest) before the deadline imposed by our esteemed editor and tries to pen a few well-chosen and carefully thought out words by way of an introduction.

It may not always seem that way- there is, after all, a fair old gap between theory and practice not only in life, but in writing about music as well- but rest assured, a lot of time is spent pondering in advance about what exactly the introduction will be each month.

And this month was going to be special. Sort of.

It seemed fitting in some ways to mark the 25th edition of the monthly column. Think about something different. I had a month or more to come up with a more wide-ranging overview than usual.

I even kicked a few ideas around in my head and up to a week ago, I was sorted. I knew what I was going to do. It might have ruffled a few feathers and caused a bit of a kick off, but that’s what you can do after a while. Maybe that’s what you should do after a while. Stir things up a bit.

But then, somewhat out of the blue, fate intervened and threw all my plans into disarray.

Breaking news on the BBC- and everywhere else, it seemed. Stop the press. Literally.

And no, this wasn’t the resignation of the Home Secretary in the wake of the awful Windrush scandal or that peace had (apparently) broken out finally after 65 years of unresolved war on the Korean peninsula-it was something much, much more important than either of those. Something that caused a nation, an entire continent- in fact the whole world- to stop in its tracks and draw a collective breath inwards.

Abba had reformed.

Abba? Yes ABBA!

Now this was really quite something, wasn’t it? Wasn’t this the news we’d all been waiting for?

Social media went into meltdown. It was ABBA, ABBA, ABBA all over Facebook and Twitter. Breaking news straplines over every news channel.

The joy of it all seemed unconfined.

“This is what I’ve been waiting to hear for years.”

“If you don’t love Abba, then you haven’t got a soul.”

“I can’t wait to hear the new songs. I can’t wait!!!!!” (The multiple exclamation marks speak volumes by the way.)

“The return of Abba is the best thing ever.”

“Classic pop music is back.”

And on and on it went. It was one of the lead items on Radio 4’s flagship news programme at 5 pm that evening and then we got treated to analysis of what it all would mean on their Arts show at 7.15. I never even turned the TV on but I’d have bet there would have been a fair old amount about the Swedish Gang of Four.

It was all a bit “where were you when you heard Abba were coming back?” The assassination of JFK for this millennium.

And it wasn’t simply people who have a casual -and probably a much more balanced relationship with music than some of us- but music fans who, dare I say it, should really know better, that were losing their shit over it all.

All those quotes above have been lifted directly from people whose musical judgement I’d normally trust without question. People who are steeped deep in music, in the obscure and arcane byways of music, people who can always be relied upon to point out what’s happening and what’s the next big thing. What to listen out for and what to avoid. People with their ears close to the ground.

But these critical faculties seemed to have flown out of the window and well and truly fucked off completely with the Abba news.

They went bananas.

It was baffling. And even when I expressed the mildest negativity about it all, I got completely hammered. It was as if I’d admitted to cooking an orangutan in palm oil or joined UKIP.

“You don’t like Abba? Really? Why not? Everybody loves Abba. What’s wrong with you?” 

I did fear that lifelong friendships might founder completely on the back of it, so I held off a bit and gave a bit of a non- committal shrug.

But this is the 25th Album Club, so here goes…

I detest Abba. I always have.

I’ve never got the classic pop/disco thing that everyone seems to tout about them. Everyone. It might be your nan or your auntie or your hipper than hip musical chums but they all go for that “everybody gets up and dances to Abba” thing; that “you can’t help it, they’re timeless” nonsense.

Well, I can. Abba doesn’t get me up and dancing. Never had and never will. Won’t even get me tapping my toes. Giving it toes more like.

If you want classic pop, classic music to get your toes tapping then go for anything on Motown or Stax and not a bunch of soulless ex-folky Swedes, who were (and still are), the most cynically and coldly manufactured band ever.

This new “two songs” coming out news is typical of what they’ve always done.

There’ll be those who’ll look deeper into the Abba phenomenon (sic) and tell you that beneath the tooth-rotting sugar and saccharine of Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha and Frida, lies a Nordic darkness that goes to the heart of it all and is worth exploring.

This is, quite frankly, revisionist bollocks. The only darkness in Abba is that they kept the world believing for so long that there was something special about their limp and limpid dirges.

The love of Abba was not always a given however. Somewhere along the line, somewhere and at some point after they had broken up, there was a subtle shift in how they were perceived.

They moved from being Eurovision winners to being one of Sweden’s biggest exports but hadn’t got that cultural and fashionable cachet that they clearly so desperately craved.

Whether it was just a matter of time or that film or some dark forces working behind the scenes, who knows, but they got there in the end.

They’ve reached a point where all those tracks, all those tunes, are lauded to skies and in fact, there’s nothing to them. It’s all built upon sand. Benny and Bjorn wanted to be up there with the great American songwriters, the great American pop tunesmiths (Brian Wilson, Randy Newman, Bacharach and David et al) and the big con is that they told everyone they were so often that eventually, like some malevolent osmosis, it stuck.

This sticking has lead us up (the garden path) to the point where the merest of crumbs dropping from Abba’s table can appear as if it’s the Second Coming. Thank you Abba– the last thirty-odd years of music have been a wilderness without you. How on earth did we all cope without any tunes and without anything to properly dance along with?

Yet all we know at this moment that they pissed around in the studio and came up with two songs, the first of which will be heard only in December.

And here we are, in 2018, with the return of Abba. God help us all. We are all truly doomed.

Yet enough of all that. I’m going to try to forget about Abba. We’ve got some brand spanking and brand-new albums to write about.

(And if you want to get hold of any Abba records you needn’t head down to your nearest record store. You’ll find them in any car boot sale up and down the land every weekend by the box load. That’s really a measure of how much everyone really loves Abba.) Rick Leach

jhelisa

Jhelisa Anderson: 7 Keys

Bandcamp

This eight-track album, available as yet only as download, is based on seven different drones, each one representing one of the Chakras on the human body: energetic focal points derived from Indian religions and central in the practice of Yoga.

Here, each Chakra is given a pitch, so the 7 Chakras produce a scale and each note of the scale has been expanded upon to create a complete track.

Drones are at the heart of classical Indian music, most noticeably with the Tanpura, a 3 stringed instrument designed to produce a drone that forms the tonal centre of the Raga.

But the idea has caught on in the West, from the overture of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, through the hippy years of Terry Riley and The Beatles, on to the drone rock of Oren Ambarchi, Sonic Youth, Glenn Branca, and reaching its zenith with the very Bodhisattva of drone music, Giacinto Scelsi.

This album begins with C- The Root (perhaps a reference to Riley’s In C), in true hippy style with wind chimes and calmly sets up a drone of multitracked voices.

So far, so meditation CD.

But by the time we get to track 3, E – Solar Plexus, something remarkable happens. As if out of the Mississippi mud Jhelisa’s voice soars.

This is built upon in the next track and continues throughout the album. Despite the thematic restrictions of these pieces, that unmistakeable crowning aesthetic of African-America shines through.

It can be called Soul, the Funk, or as Rahsaan Roland Kirk would have it, Blacknuss. But these definitions are too simple, tempting us to think this quality is somehow genetic: glib and in the final analysis, racist.

No – the skills and aesthetic that Jhelisa exhibits with almost every breath she takes come from a culture developed under the duress of slavery and Jim Crow apartheid in the US. Singing and the trained human voice as a means to liberation; and the Anderson family is a singing family – with roots and branches in gospel, James Brown’s band, Jhelisa’s own successes and cousin Carleen.

But N’all, the eighth track on this album is the high point.

Here, she reaches across the seven drones, bringing in complex harmonies and pitch relationships rather than the stasis of the previous seven pieces. Bitonality, exquisite tensions and dissonances resolving into warm baths of sound.

And throughout it all – that voice.

That most rich and chastised of cultures shines through, demonstrating once again that if there’s one unifying force that African Americans feel, it’s the urge to overcome through the voice – to find harmony in the dissonance. Jono Podmore

 car seat

Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy

Matador

Following 2016’s cult album Teens of Denial, the Seattle based lo-fi rockers second formal album Twin Fantasy is a real treat.

This album is actually a re-recording of an album of the same name from 2011. Before signing to Matador Records in 2015, Car Seat Headrest had released 12 albums on Bandcamp, of which Twin Fantasy gained a loyal fanbase and has being re-imagined in this new ever-so-slightly-more-sparkly new version.

Lyrically, there are running humdrum themes throughout of mundanity and being generally lame – so it’s certainly relatable. Lines like ‘What should we do? Eat some food… What should we do? Apply for jobs’ drive home the kitchen-sink sensibility of their writing. This is complimented perfectly by the scuzzy production of the album which is brilliantly real and not over polished.

The opening track My Boy (Twin Fantasy) is a showcase of all the subtlety and contrast that Car Seat Headrest bring to the table. A gentle ease into the song, builds into a huge crescendo – both sonically and emotionally, almost reminiscent of The Beach Boys joining forces with Sonic Youth.

From the next track, Beach Life-in-Death and onwards, the adrenaline is maintained, stepping-stoning between pounding choruses and chest ripping exclamations. Stand out tracks include Sober to Death and the gospel-esque Twin Fantasy (Those Boys) which closes the album in blissful lament.

Car Seat Headrest’s Twin Fantasy is clearly something worth listening to, purely based upon the fact that it’s been re-recorded with such attention to detail. This new release has taken a seminal moment in the band’s back catalogue and pushed it from the back-bedroom sketches of the original take to this new self-respecting piece. Josh McMahon

Erland

Erland Cooper: Solan Goose

Phases

Sometimes you need music that speaks of wider things, of more than bluster and chest-beating immaturity. Sometimes you need music that turns its back on the old tired, worn-out and cliched beyond cliché moves of the past what, 50 or 60 years, the same roundabout of false cutting-edge nonsense.

Sometimes you need to hear something which is not simply mining of thin and increasingly depleted seam of popular music, constantly recycling over and over again things that were hackneyed in the first place.

Sometimes you need to hear something different, something that for once can genuinely strike a chord, something that can move you on an instinctive level and not be so self-referential that the only way to describe it is second, third or fourth hand in comparison to music that your parents or even grandparents were listening to.

How many more watered-down mid-sixties psychedelic bands must we endure in 2018? Aren’t you really sick of hearing sub-Nuggets guitar combos thrash their way haplessly through what is laughingly termed ‘challenging’ or God forbid, ‘innovative’ songs? How many more times must we hear of the legacy of punk or disco or folk or…whatever…you know the score. We all do. We’re all going through the same stuff over and over and over again. It never ends.

And we’re all complicit in this. Artists, consumers, fans, record labels. We’re all doing it and we’re all doing it all the time. Just make the ‘music’ stop. Give us a break. Let’s hear something different. Let music do what it can and should do.

I got to thinking about this when I started listening to Erland Cooper’s Solan Goose album.

I started listening to it this last month and I’ve kept going back to it again and again, to the exclusion of nearly everything else. Yes, there were times when I’d pick something else; when something else would come up on Spotify or I’d pull a CD from the shelf, but they’d only last a few minutes before I’d revert back.

And the reason why is that Solan Goose is everything music should be. Everything music must be.

A largely instrumental record from the Orcadian Cooper, Solan Goose celebrates (and that is the right word, celebrates) the beauty inherent in the Orkney archipelago, the space and freedom of a world apart and in particular, the birdlife.

Each track is named after the Orcadian dialect word for the birds in Erland Coopers’ home; the Solan Goose is the gannet, the Maalie is the fulmar, the Whitemaa is the herring gull and so on. So far removed from the tired rock clichés, Solan Goose (the album) is a joy to listen to.

There’s none of the ridiculous posturing we put up with time and time again. This is quiet and gentle music. Music that speaks of open skies and swirling flight, empty beaches and scudding clouds, sea and emptiness. Hope and love and honesty.

In a little over 35 minutes, Solan Goose transports you away from this world, this hectic world of the mundane and ever present things that aren’t really important, insignificance and mere cultural blips, through seemingly simple yet carefully constructed piano and violin motifs, the sounds of bird cry and spoken Orcadian lilts to somewhere quite remarkable.

This is music doing what it should do. Music that brings a lump to your throat. Music that makes you realise what is really important and what really matters, whatever that might be.

Sometimes- in fact now more than ever- we need music to do something different. Solan Goose does just that. This is a simply an astonishing record. Rick Leach

 

logistics 

Logistics: Hologram

Hospital Records

One of the many wonderful things about being a drum & bass fan is the sheer variety of the music you can listen to.

Taking Hospital Records alone, in the last few months we have had the sleek, ultramodern stylings of Fred V & Grafix’s Cinematic Party Music, the incredible liquid drum & bass of Etherwood’s In Stillness (surely untouchable for best album of 2018) and now the dance friendly new album from Logistics in the form of new album Hologram.

Logistics are perhaps the most traditional drum & bass act of the three, their skittering drums loud and proud in the mix, where others have allowed the syncopated beats to fade into the background to some degree.  As a result, they sound fuller and have more attack than their label mates.

They still have focus on tunes however, and Hologram is an album full of melody and hooks.  Nor can they be accused of sticking to any DnB formula.

Whereas opening track Lotus Flower is up tempo catchy drum & bass pop, Microdot is a slow, haunting number that conjures up images of hazy late nights, the sun rising over a field as the last junglists standing still manage to sway to the rhythms.

Inemuri and the album’s title track have deep sonic bass rumblings that begged to be heard loud and live.

Logistics trick seems to be in combining treated vocals over frantic drums and sub bass to stunning effect.

If you have even a passing interest in drum & bass, you should do yourself a favour and head over to Hospital Records to buy all three albums mentioned here.  And perhaps save Logistics for after the sun has set and the party really gets started. Banjo

msp

Manic Street Preachers: Resistance is Futile

Columbia

‘As the night falls around me, I see joy and devotion. These times will never leave, like the rain on the ocean. There is dignity and pride, there is poetry and life; there are ghosts within these stones. There’s defiance in these bones’.

As a Liverpool music blog, we’re compelled to begin the new Manic Street Preachers album with these lines from Liverpool Revisited, apparently written early one morning by Nicky Wire on a sojourn around the city during the band’s visit on tour. It’s a brief, chorusless interlude given the cinematic Manics treatment, and its poignant, earnest lyric alone provides one of the album’s highlights.

Like the opening side of Resistance is Futile as a whole, Liverpool Revisited is designed to leave an impression. The Manics’ thirteenth album bursts from the blocks, and overwhelms with its immediacy. If nothing else, this is their most accessible album in years. Everything is spread out, like arranging photo prints on the floor. But just like such an activity, staring long enough brings a tinge of melancholy, and there’s a density to the album’s emotional layers.

The past Manics album that Resistance is Futile rings of most redolently is Postcards From A Young Man, with its mass-communicative bluster. But if anything it’s a more refined, successful take on that records’ sonic template, either parking wayward experimentation or polishing it so that its effect is cumulative rather than jarring.

Yes, when James Dean Bradfield peels the guitar riffs of International Blue and belts out his vocal, he’s going for the jugular. But the subtleties of tracks like Hold Me Like A Heaven and A Song For The Sadness emerge as reward for repeat listens.

Maybe it’s the soundscaping synths, the collapsing tom hits of Sean Moore’s drum track, or the wilderness-sized scope but Hold Me Like A Heaven sounds like the Bunnymen at their most skyward gazing.

The album does suffer from something of a late slump, with In Eternity and Broken Algorithms perhaps coming off as a little passive despite the latter’s crunchy guitar sound. A Song For The Sadness’ guitar riff is just quirky enough to be an earworm meanwhile, its soft focus 80s pop atmosphere bruised by the chorus’ unconventional chord changes and Nicky Wire’s buoyant bass.

Hyperbole tends to be rife around a Manics album at release: “Their best since such and such” says so-and-so. We’re not trying to grab headlines and make a soundbite here, so in final appraisal, the albums is not as cohesive a collection as say their late career highlight Futurology.

The likes of Distant Colours and People Give In however are the kind of solid gold classics that Bradfield, Wire and Moore probably mutter in their sleep these days. Then, away from those soaring anthems, the Manic Street Preachers prove they can still celebrate melancholy like few others. David Hall

tom mish

Tom Misch: Geography

Beyond the Groove 4

Undeniably talented, Tom Misch is currently the funkiest artist out there, although there is no doubting that some fans were left craving fresh material on his new album – Geography.

With bangers galore already littered across the internet, Misch is the victim of his own success on this latest release, as they’re simply too many songs we’ve heard before.

The record begins with a spoken-word intro, with Before Paris kicking off in soulful instrumental fashion as Tom’s caramel-coated chords carry seamlessly into the rest of the album.

We’re instantly led South of the River, a song that epitomises Misch’s unique home-grown style but now possesses a more subtle sting following its release on YouTube nine months ago.

This is much the same for many of the album’s top tracks, such as Movie and Man Like You, however, they still retain their beautiful touch and get the eyes-closed fists-clenched treatment as we groove along.

A cameo from Loyle Carner is a pleasant treat on Water Baby, as his opening verse jars the listener alive following a stint erring on background music, while we then end on a high with Cos I Love You and We’ve Come So Far.

As a whole, this hip-hop and jazz-fuelled album is safe yet terrific. Misch’s vocals are effortless and match up well his gifted guitar skills, advertising the start of a career which is sure to take him far. Luke Barr

saba

Saba: Care For Me

Saba Pivot, LLC

In his newest project, Chicago based rapper Tahj Malik Chandler, otherwise known as ‘Saba’, flawlessly fuses trap and jazz production into a beautiful collision of worlds that perfectly soundtracks his lyrical sensibility and storytelling.

Though he has gained much attention just from his artistic parallels and collaborations with close friend Chance The Rapper, Saba makes the music his own from the very start.  The very first words being ‘I’m so alone’ not only stresses his own outright individuality, but also establishes isolation as a key theme of the record.

Interestingly, Saba’s individualism inverts the typical rap formula as egocentric defiance makes way for pitiable solipsism. The death and subsequent grief of his cousin John Walt permeates the record, with any other vulnerabilities either relating to or peeling off from his passing.

Here, Saba finds himself stuck on an almost paradoxical focus, as an absence has the greatest presence on the album. However, the fixed attention breeds a plurality of feelings and is gracefully self-acknowledging of mental health issues. It is refreshing to hear anxiety and depression acknowledged honestly with instrumental elements that match the emotional tone.

The mismatch between the traditional Jazz-orientated keys with the modern skittering trap beats only serve to reiterate Saba’s struggle with his relationship between past and present. The keys create an air of sentimentality for his memories to unravel, whilst the percussion persistently pushes his feelings of present, keeping the music and its content undeniably contemporary.

The lyrical dexterity and slinky double-bassline on Life proves to be a memorable moment on the album, however the track Prom/King encapsulates all that is great about the record. Lasting a glorious seven and half minutes, it builds as a compelling narrative from the romantic futility of his schooldays into personal growth and eventual familial loss.

The song and the album both peak in the latter half of the track as the beat grows menacingly into a frenzied cacophony, matching the wild incoherent panic that he raps over in this part. It is this cohesion between the production and words that stands out as the most outstanding aspect of his efforts.

As a result, Saba’s primary triumph is matching, or rather tasteful mismatching, of music to lyrical content. The purely instrumental anachronisms and contradictions make for a beautiful canvas for which he paints his emotional confusions so suitably upon. Matty Lear

ss and the disarmers

Sarah Shook and the Disarmers: Years

Bloodshot

Let’s say this very quietly and get it out of the way before we start. This is a country album.

Right, for the ones who are still with us, then let’s appreciate a quality piece of work. Admittedly bought as a bit of a punt in Rough Trade on a recent trip to London, it was one of the staff picks, and they’re usually pretty reliable. After all, with a name like Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, this was bound to be good…right? Yup.

‘I need this shit like I need another hole in my head’ wails Sarah in New Ways to Fail as the slide guitar twangs it’s way around this melancholic non-guilt trip about a clearly failing relationship. ‘I will survive without your loving – don’t you dare pretend I won’t’. It’s a power song that references power struggles in all too many so- called emotional partnerships. We’re onto a good thing already.

The Tom Waits style of The Bottle Never Lets Me Down– ’Every day I wait for the night to fall’ is a glorious soul-searching admission of a wasted life, yet, this being a c*****y album it has a really foot-tapping feel to it. But, isn’t that often the way? Dunno, mebbe.

It isn’t all maudlin, though. Fans of Lindi Ortega, Kings of Leon and, well, good music, will all get something out of this album. The rhythms on What It Takes are infectious. It’s got a kind of rebellious feel to it in a safe-ish kind of way, if that makes any sense at all.

It’s just classy, well-made music. Not exactly breaking any new moulds, but then why should they? It’s just fine as it is.

The short and sweet Lesson ditches the slide guitar and makes a more punchy, punky 2.45 minute morality tale: ‘I’m gonna learn me my lesson and move on.’ There’s a contradiction developing. The lyrics are mostly down, but the music is up. For that is often the way with c*****y. And w*****n.

It’s not a long album, checking in at 37 minutes and the longest track, the 5 minute plus Heartache in Hell is a power sorrow drowning whisky drenched behemoth that is everything you expect it should be. All the instruments crashing and banging in a glorious finale, except for the last tune on the album.

And for that one, the slide guitar’s back for title track Years. A fine closer and a real feel good tune – so good it has one of those false fades and then kicks in again.

So, c*****y fans. Fill your (cowboy) boots. This is boss. Peter Goodbody

adam stafford

Adam Stafford: Fire Behind the Curtain

Song, By Toad

In Adam Stafford’s new album, we have a long, hefty departure from previous offerings – 2016’s Taser Revelations was full of catchy pop songs. In Fire Behind The Curtain we get a neoclassical epic, eight years in the making.

He’s moved far away from the traditional songwriting model and embraced the coolness of minimalism; this double album is blood, muscle and bone, with no fat to trim.

This album is instrumental because, says the composer, ‘I would rather experiment in building a piece with emotion, texture and tonality rather than wheel out all of the old clichés of unrequited love in lyrical form… I really just wanted to present music in which the listener can project their emotional content/context onto.’

Stafford is correct. We’re free to interpret and apply as we please; although, I have to say, there’s little room for interpretation when presented with Museum of Grinding Dicks.

Arrangements from Modern Studies Pete Harvey gift the record a sense of sincere beauty; in The Witch Hunt, the arrangements are bloody gorgeous, elegant, grounded by – from what I can make out – a human beat box, and the sweet reassurance of a choir.

Zero Disruption runs the risk of bordering on prettiness, named after a self-help relaxation CD, River Search Into The Night carries almost oriental undertones, and the ninety second of Strangers Care When You Burn cleansing the palate like a sorbet; that’s not say it’s frivolous or sharp, with the almost hymnal synths and the information ‘lilies languish limp and lopsided drooping into the reflection of the black necked vase’. The spoken word segment is a shock to the system, a most welcome one.

In Penshaw Monument, a beat of the heart is taken up by a murmur of voices firming up to a chant, and a whirl of whistles, more cleansing, this time of the bad thoughts. Invade They Say Fine chronicles Stafford’s depression (‘the monolithic sax-slab is analogous to the attack of fear and dread I experience.’) and carries nudges of familiarity, courtesy of Anna Meredith’s Nautilis from her pop-classical crossover album, Varmints.

But while Varmints has people dancing – yes, even me – Stafford’s new work is a much more sobering affair, but no less brilliant for it. Cath Bore

wonder years

The Wonder Years: Sister Cities

Hopeless Records

It isn’t rare for pop-punk outfits to mature over time. The desire, the want, the desperation to be taken seriously heeds control as these acts grow older and singing about high school begins to look out of place. This process has been happening slowly for years with American act The Wonder Years.

In all truthfulness, The Wonder Years were never as throw-away as their peers, and the worry with their latest album – the darker, more vicious Sister Cities – was that they would lose their charm. A charm that comes from original lyricism and personal song-writing whilst still being able to write music that could see out a summer’s day.

Luckily for us, the personality is still there, but they’ve moved seasons and now offer us a damp, moody Autumn evening instead. But it works more sincerely than those whose path they follow.

Album opener Raining in Kyoto opens with rolling drums and a crestfallen, sombre feel that quickly shows us the bands new route to home.

Moving through to It Must Be Lonely, Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell cranks up what it feels like to hear this record: euphoric melancholy. The thread that joins each of The Wonder Years’ albums together is the passion and the care.

Sister Cities visits places many other bands – no matter the genre – would go to and continue to weave said thread. And in that, they grow beyond a limited shelf-life of a pop act. They suddenly become an act dragged through gravel and thorns with only their best bits lefts over as their new evolution takes place.

Previous records by The Wonder Years have felt insular (in a good way), with dedications to hometowns and friends left behind, but with this album, the world they’re exploring feels much larger than before, but they own it well. This isn’t a forced decision to expand their fan base, this is growing up.

As they close their most mature offering to date with song The Ocean Grew Hands to Hold Me, Campbell and co wish the new world they’ve met a slow, steady goodbye. ‘I’ve been running for a decade now, and I think I’m ready to go’ he sighs. Closing out an impressive, effortless shift from champions of one era, to contenders in another, The Wonder Years continue to impress through sheer talent and a shit-ton of heart. Luke Chandley

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