Monday, 10 November 2014

Album Review - The Last September - Volcano

The third album by The Last September is remarkably smooth, not only in its instrumentation and production, but the way it delivers to the listener; you feel almost as if there is something larger going on with Volcano,  a more intimate setting then what they have to offer that is only felt by sitting down with this record.

What The Last September bring to this album, amongst other things, is their use of space and subtlety.  The band know how to set a scene and deliver not only the aural setting, but a visual one as well, as the lyrics are beautifully coupled with the underlying melodies brought forth by lush guitar tones and an ever present, but never dominating rhythm line.  The vocals are strong and varied; showing the incredible range that lead vocalist Pete Deane brings to the table.  He can lull you in to a false sense of security, and then bring you right out of it in to a huge climax of harmony.  The backing vocals provided by Craig Nicholson only strengthen the vocal sound scape and highlight the many dynamics incorporated in to Volcano.

The third track, Hold Me Down,  is a great example of how The Last September can create a track that feels subdued, but has embedded longing in the undertones; it is a straightforward track with some excellent layering and songwriting ability in its depths.   Take a listen to the instrumental bridge at the end of Cinders  and you will find not only an excellent reprise/outro, but a calculated awareness of vision when it comes to extra-sensory listening.

To me, the production choices on this album are everything you ever wanted on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, just as dusk approaches.  The way they build their melodies over the course of each song, matched with strong lyricism to exemplify deep emotion, gives you a clear insight in to how The Last September is developing in to a great alternative rock band.  Each chorus is catchy, and though the arrangement for each song may seem direct, it is the combination of each element and sound that brings out the best in every song.  If you need further proof of this, listen to the driving distorted guitar line in All Along the A7  and how they pair it with an ambient, wandering guitar line for a cinematic effect worthy of the Old West.  Everything is much more then it seems to be with The Last September.

“You came to see the fireworks as you were slipping out the door; of the town that held you captive, as the sparks fell on the shore”.  The opening lyrics of Light up the Clyde  perfectly capture what The Last September are trying to express on this album, both a deep connection with people and places, but the longing to get out in this world and explore.  The addition of keyboards and accordion by Archie MacFarlane intensify this feeling, by giving each track a soft, yet ambient touch.  Exploiting those long spaces with ambience, huge ring outs and layered melodies only make the listener want to leave their existence and experience something truly profound.  Have you ever been comfortable stuck where you are?  No?  Well from the sounds of Volcano,  neither have The Last September.

This is a mix of everything on this album for the stubborn listener out there.  Cool, swaying instrumentals; driving distortion; interesting and elaborate arrangements; compelling voice overs. like that on Climbing,  and of course several ways to connect with almost any part of the music.  I would definitely recommend this album for anyone who wants to get in on the ground floor of a rising, talented band that will not only provide a great soundtrack to whatever activity you may be doing, but in some instances, set the precedent for the activity you should be doing.

- Michael Greenwood

The Last September - Volcano  is out now via Fountanhill Records on CD and digital download and can be purchased here.

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