Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Album Review - Now Wakes The Sea - Bildungsroman

Bildungsroman  is the second release from Now Wakes The Sea via Mini50 Records, but follows on from a stream of sold out cassettes and CDr’s.  Now Wakes The Sea releases can be anything from synthy drones to off kilter pop songs, all bound by two sonic identities: Alan McCormack’s voice and the lo-fi nature of the recordings.  Although Mini50 debut, Fluoxetine Morning  and Bildungsroman  are both more graceful than their small run, self printed releases, to call them polished would be a stretch, and this is certainly not a bad thing.

Recorded straight to cassette, the first thing you notice about this album is how well it suits the band.  Admittedly recorded very well to cassette, the format gives the album a barrier of quality beyond which the band cannot pass, and it gives the release charm, especially given the almost haphazard nature of the album.

The album can be mostly broken into three main categories.  Infectious and odd pop tunes, ambient pieces and lo-fi ditties.  The real stand out tracks on the album are the pop tracks.  First single, Original Bone  is an irresistibly catchy gem that is put together with skill, through inventive sounds and interestingly placed bubbly synths and a guitar hook that on endless repeat would happily accompany any summer.  The Coast And The Shoreline  is similarly brilliant with strong verses, a psychedelic chorus and a charming guitar hook.

The first of the ambient interludes, Pictures Stay the Same,  is, again, well constructed and made up of interesting sounds that progress in a defined direction before giving way to a more trippy sampled word section.  The closer, Shining Bright O’er The Land And Sea  is not quite as successful in a stand alone composition, but acts as a nice breather to close the album.

The lo-fi ditties make up the bulk of the album.  These range from the circus-rock of early Wild Beasts on Prefab House  to the psychedelic and relatively static Sick Kids.  The strength of the songs throughout is clear, but one can’t help but feel this collection of great songs sit together slightly awkwardly.  An outside producer would bring these compositions together with a sense of focus and bind them, rather than push them apart with varying styles and productions.  Let’s not forget though, this was recorded at home by the band to cassette, and what they’ve managed to achieve goes far beyond most bedroom tape releases, and their potential, through recording and song writing, with two of this years catchiest tunes, is unquestionable.

- Ashley Leiper

Now Wakes The Sea - Bildungsroman  is out now via Mini50 Records and available to buy and download here.

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