With the year coming to a close, I’m reminded of the fact that there are a few albums that I hadn’t had a chance to review – thanks in particular to having two rather demanding jobs with frequently competing interests. So sadly, this will be another year in which my Best of List will be a bit delayed. Sigh. Let’s get to it.
The Ways We Separate
Release Date: April 29, 2013
Beacon’s debut effort For Now EP garnered quite a bit of attention across the blogosphere. The EP was hauntingly ominous collection of songs that managed to burrow into the dark and ugly places of regret, temptation and obsession with a sparse, minimalist form electronica-based R&B. Beacon’s full-length release, The Ways We Separate, which Ghostly International released back in April and the album continues to further cement the duo’s reputation for eerie electronica-based R&B. Sung over sparse beats and icy synths, Mullarney’s lyrics which suggest the fading of love, the festering and confusing feelings of lust and desire, are sung with a falsetto that sounds like a wisp of smoke dissipating before your eyes. The album, much like the EP evokes the strangely empty feeling of a relationship irrevocably and implausibly lost – you don’t quite know how it happened, but it happened and there’s nothing you can do to change it. In some way, the album strikes me as evoking the lonely and obsessive regrets – over mistakes and failed possibilities – that come up at 3 and 4am. Its eerie and fucked up as hell, but the duo of Beacon manage to make despair and regret darkly and urgently seductive.
Time Stays, We Go
Pitch Beast Records
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Time Stays, We Go is the fourth full-length release from the British quintet, the Veils, and the first album released by the band in over four years. Produced by lead vocalist/songwriter Finn Andrews and Adam Greenspan, and mixed from the masters to analog tape by Bill Price, who once produced the Clash and the Jesus and Mary Chain, the material on the album has a warm, lush feel that brings an added depth to the atmospheric instrumentation. And throughout the album, you’ll hear Andrews’ sing lyrics about regret, fear and loneliness with an expressive, at times wailing croon, which sounds uncannily like Starsailor’s James Walsh – especially on the higher notes. Released to critical applause by the likes of Spin, Entertainment Weekly there is at least one song absolutely worthy of critical applause, “The Pearl” which is a stunningly delicate and somber song with a hauntingly and deceptively simple melody. But sadly, the rest of the material on the album isn’t the most original – it hews closely to the Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum-era U2 meets Starsailor. And much like Starsailor, there are some cringe inducing lyrics that sound and feel as though Andrews was trying too hard to be a relevant songwriter, instead of writing just a decent song.
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Total Exposure, the latest effort from Argentine trio Las Kellies, released by Fire Records in September was produced by Ivi Lee, who has worked with the likes of the legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry and Mad Professor, and as a result the album takes on more pronounced dub and dubstep sound with elements of 80s synth pop – in particular on the album’s lead single “Melting Ice” which thanks to its shimmering synths and lyrics delivered in an old school hip-hop cadence bears an uncanny resemblance to the Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love.” “Post Post” with its angular guitar line, complex, African-inspired syncopation and undulating bass line bears a similarity to the Talking Heads’ “I Zimbra.”Although released in September, the album is summertime party album – complete with sinuous bass; however, it does hew closely to the sources that influenced it, to the point of being a little unoriginal which is honestly a shame. Still, it’s quite a change in direction for their sound and it reveals a band willing to experiment and expand their sound.