Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Album Review - Insect Heroes - Apocalypso

Apocalypso  is the latest release from the Lost Map label, and their first debut album proper.  Insect Heroes set the tone for their album with the introduction.  What at first sounds like seagulls on a distant beach reveals itself to be hawking synths, which is then playfully followed with the lines "welcome to the modern age, welcome to the end of days."  The band are almost a snapshot of current pop coming out of Scotland: lo-fi, undeniably quirky, a melodic nod to the '60's, a hard pull to the beach and a heavy dose of charm.  The songs on offer here are so sun stroked that it feels almost wrong to be released in October.

The voice and general tone of the album sits in a similar territory to label operator, The Pictish Trail, although the overall production is a lot more electronic and playful, whilst still being cleverly put together in terms of arrangements and melodies.  The vocals are, in places, hushed in a similar way to Yusuf Azak, with the songs displaying the infectious summery pop of Now Wakes The Sea.  The band draws on a variety of influences and manages to bring them together to a coherent sonic imprint.  Animal Collective, at their most Beach Boys, are a clear influence, there are elements of Americana, with Spacesuit  sounding like a lo-fi pop take on Kurt Vile and there are even nods to carnival music beyond the album’s title, although more in its general upbeat and feel good tone rather than musically.

The lyrics are mostly ridiculous and brilliant alongside the music.  The chorus for Fabulous  is four repetitions of the line "tonight I’m fooking fabulous"  while Beautiful World  lists a number of things that are beautiful before exclaiming "I’m so happy I could die" with this format making up the entire song.  This simplistic take adds towards the charming naivety and innocence of the album, suggest that Insect Heroes are not trying to be anything other than themselves.

There are two well placed quieter and slightly more intimate moments on the album, Marionette  and Wooden Heart,  that, along with brief interlude Insect Heroes Theme  and wind down Good Night,  help to break the album out ensuring all the optimism doesn’t get fatiguing.  The consistently upbeat and optimistic feel throughout the album is endlessly endearing and makes this a hugely revisitable listen which, due to its quirky nature in terms of instrumentation and production, uncovers more on every listen, all while the melodies are engrained in your brain.  If only this was released in May, it would have been the perfect soundtrack to the summer.

- Ashley Leiper

Insect Heroes - Apocalypso  is out now via Lost Map Records and can be purchased on CD and vinyl here.

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