Recent paths for Guillemots haven’t been so great. Mainly this was, of course, geared towards sophomore album Red and Fyfe Dangerfield’s own Fly Yellow Moon for being like a graduate of the amateur dramatics school, overly wrought in hyperbole and needless over the top emo-pop and R&B songs. When they didn’t, the songs sounded far too conventional by Guillemots standards.
These were a stones throw away from the utterly brilliant debut of Through The Windowpane which engaged a wide panorama of breathtaking landscapes complimented by Fyfe’s soaring and wondrous extravagant voice, all the while keeping the perfect balance, avoiding a shortfall of flying too high. Fyfe described this, their third effort, as “music to be heard across the night sky” and that the tracks sounded like “they were sleepwalking onto a tape.” Whatever Fyfe’s own meanings behind these words were, they certainly are both true in good and bad ways. The good: it’s an album that certainly reflects the majesty of Through the Windowpane, grandiose and breathtaking as some of the tracks ascend into an explosion of electronic and dramatic propulsion albeit a little overworked at times, and when calmed down, can be therapeutically soothing. But with this calmness, comes the bad: a shortfall that strays away from the electrifying eccentricities that make the band brilliant. You’ll feel that some songs often drift off into nothingness, a dull tread of over indulgence that could have been shortened down into something much more effective.
Opener ‘Walk the River’ sees the band at their hypnotic best, a mid tempo drum rattle slowly drawing you in to the explosion of celestially floating guitars as the bell chimes transport you into an uplifting and relaxing dream state up until the escalating chorus skyrockets you into otherworldly ecstasy “across the night sky.” What follows are otherwise natural acoustic numbers brought into a new dimension by the curious atmosphere of twinkling, droning and gently resonating guitars, drifting continuously into a careless air of imagination (‘I Don’t Feel Amazing Now’, ‘Yesterday is Dead’.).
Fyfe’s voice is equally as astonishing as he gruffly and charismatically chants: “Play on, play on, play on, the skies are made vermillion,” (‘Vermillion’) in amongst heavenly astral backing vocals which add a peace to Dangerfield’s alarming screams. But whilst these quirky dramatics are a staple of what makes the band magnificent, it sometimes feels a little overdone. ‘Ice Room’ for example is a repetitive roar of artificial sounding emotives, Fyfe sounding muddled and strained as he bellows: “I’m so alive!” like he were auditioning for a Broadway production and eventually failing. It comes across as the band trying their most pointlessly hardest to grab us as opposed to the effortlessness that ‘Trains to Brazil’ or ‘Annie, Let’s Not Wait’ had. They were short and got to that wondrous chase right away with a rich tapestry of fantastical detail. ‘Sometimes I Remember Wrong’ and ‘Yesterday is Dead’ on the other hand feel like an effort to get through, both at over eight minutes long. Yes, they retain the atmospheric and celestial qualities embedded throughout Walk the River, laden with reverb that does indeed aim to shoot for the night sky but with such a long time to really get somewhere, it really does turn into a sleepwalk of boredom.
Closing track ‘Nothing You Feel is True’ is an unfortunate solemn which lacks the explosiveness that made parts of the album an exciting wonder, instead following the same trailing path of preceding tracks of what otherwise should be a loud and boisterous ending. It seems that when the band do reach those dreamlike states, they do it perfectly resulting in a tapestry of luscious multicolours. When they wake up however, you realise that the real world isn’t as graceful.
Release date: 18/04/2011