Ah, what better way to start off your day than to enjoy a pleasant drive to work in your new car (well, not a new car, I’m not THAT flush!) whilst playing an up to the minute album by one of the most promising bands of the past decade? Syd Arthur can proudly wear that cap, despite the moniker sounding more like a dodgy backstreet car mechanic who tried to flog you a ferret in the local pub than that of a four piece ensemble from Canterbury.
For Apricity, their fourth album proper, the accompanying blurb informs me that Mojo’s review suggests we “Imagine Tame Impala if Kevin Parker had spent his formative years at rave parties in the Kent woods rather than stoned out of his gourd in Perth“. This is a damn good assessment, to be fair, though I would have to add that most of this new long player sounds rather like Alex Turner has had a major hand in songwriting duties, circa Arctic Monkeys‘ most recent album AM. I mean that affectionately enough, merely in the respect that, like their Sheffield counterparts, this ensemble’s champagne glass is overflowing with original ideas and that is something refreshing to see (and hear).
First drive home. ‘Coal Mine‘ christens the new car nicely, that mix of near-prog and clever pop sweeping beautifully through the speakers, before the truly stupendous ‘Plane Crash In Kansas‘ reaffirms Syd Arthur’s status as true craftsmen of their art. This one has that smoky jazz rock feel that you would ordinarily associate with Steely Dan and is one of the great tunes of 2016 in my book.
As I pass Pork Pie Island (so named because the library at the roundabout is shaped such), ‘No Peace‘ blares from the stereo, with an intro somewhere between Curiosity Killed The Cat‘s ‘Misfit‘ and Stereo MCs‘ ‘Step It Up‘, but eventually sounds nothing like either and instead becomes a bright and breezy summertime sensation, with a chorus that clings to you like leeches, steadfastly refusing to budge.
Just over halfway through Apricity, the slightly less infectious but no less effective ‘Rebel Lands‘ lends its dreamy textures to the grey monotony of work’s car park. Only twelve hours to go. Sigh.
Time to go home, and my journey is soundtracked by the quite magnificent ‘Seraphim‘ from the off. The religious imagery here is most striking and seems to be suggesting that you’d do well to try and make the best of your life while you’re still a part of this mortal coil, or else be condemned to eternal damnation.
Handily, this record lasts pretty much the entire duration of my trip to work and back and concludes with one of its best tunes, the title track. It’s more of the same really, so needs little elaboration.
It’s not without its imperfections, however, but while Apricity has the odd moment that slips by with little fanfare, for the most part, it’s a riot.
Apricity is out now on Communion.