Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New : Nude Beach - '77'

Fresh off the back of my recent best of 2014 entries it’s time to pass over to a radical new theme, namely albums that completely passed me by because I wasn’t paying enough attention (hey, there’s bound to be a couple). This time last year I was castigating myself for missing out on stonkers from the likes of Cate Le Bon and Cut Copy in 2013’s rundown and this year’s one that got away looks to be Nude Beach’s colossal ‘77’, an almost over generous dollop of catchy ass guitar pop from the crowded confines of NYC’s indie scene. These dudes have toured with The Men so you know there’s gonna be something about them to love, although beyond what sounds very much like a shared love of 70s US radio rock they’re two very different beasts – whilst their tour buddies are partial to splunderous noise blasts the Nudesters are way more slick and snappy, serving up their ingredients with enough spit and polish to tempt mainstream radio over 18 potential smasheroonies. There’s a spot of Elvis Costello’s sneery New Wave, a little of Tom Petty’s road-friendly twang and even a noticeable smidgen of ‘Bandwagonesque’-era Teenage Fanclub, all reassuringly elegant influences that set this aside from some of the more bovine bar rock configurations aping Springsteen at his sweatiest. What’s more they sound like they’re doing it for the right reasons – indie kids can be pretty snotty especially when you’re dealing with NYC hipsters and there’s already far too many emaciated scruffs trying to ride passenger on the same set of New Order/The Cure LPs being passed around yet never really sounding like they mean it but Nude Beach sound like they’ve been slurping on the teat of melodic radio rock since they came into this world. ‘77’ perhaps appropriately focuses on the poppier heights of the late 1970s, losing itself in warm guitar licks and dreamy melody as tracks veer between snappy hook-based pop and sun-drenched road rock like the highlights of a long journey drifting by as you lose track of time. 18 tracks of this stuff makes it seem more like a compilation than a regular LP so you might say they’d have been better served guarding a few cuts for a void-filling EP six months from now after they’ve finishing touring the rest of the record - then again they’re no filler here despite the length so what the fuck am I complaining about? ‘77’ is well worth the asking price even if you pay per track like I do – snap this one up before it goes cold and bookend it with The Men’s latest and the debut from their offshoot Dream Police for a sumptuous session of seventies rockin’.

Check out : ‘See My Way’, which could’ve come straight off one of Teenage Fanclub’s early 90s records. And that ain’t no bad thing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Best of 2014 Chapter Six : 5-1

5. Wife - What's Between

Creating a record that expounds upon your innermost thought processes and expecting people to listen to it relies on the assumption that you’re in some way interesting to begin with. There are numerous solo artists out there making albums that are ‘all about me’ but as listeners we’re perfectly entitled to ask for more justification to press play, something that sets each individual musician out from the pack and makes what they have to say that bit more intriguing than the next guy. I’ll confess that I might have skimmed over ‘What’s Between’ had I not been familiar with its creator James Kelly from his role as mastermind of Irish Black Metal project Altar of Plagues whose staggering ‘Teethed Glory And Injury’ landed last year to offer a terrifyingly raw passage through the despondent end of the emotional spectrum that couldn’t fail to strike a chord with even those typically put off by the genre’s harsh dynamics. Kelly called time on the project soon afterwards and resurfaced under the Wife moniker this year with a new direction that bore little resemblance to his previous endeavours on first listen but I was determined to join the dots between the two and kept going round until I’d tracked it back to the same origins as his earlier work. Beneath the layers of both lies a shivering vulnerability that fuelled the resurgent anger of his BM material but here comes vividly to life as a more accepting, articulate beast capable of examining its own feelings without resorting to nightmarish anguish or bitter rage blasts. It’s a dichotomy that underlies much of the better BM out there but rarely has it been exposed so candidly (and dare I say it bravely) in a genre often bogged down by its own commitment to horror and misanthropy. Fellow mould-breaker Justin Broadrick achieved something comparable with his Jesu project that emerged as a postscript to Godflesh in the early 00s and drew back from industrial dissonance to a more lucid, vulnerable form to stunning effect – their self-titled debut from late 2004 remains one of my favourite records of all time. But Kelly is onto something different here, drifting closer to mainstream sounds with a strand of subdued electronica that could easily find its way into the NME’s favourites alongside Alt-J and Wild Beasts – perhaps it’s no bad thing that it didn’t as to bracket it in with the risk-free dabblings of such bands would mask the more critical and cunning heart that pumps the blood through ‘What’s Between’. The nine tracks here resonate like wounds throbbing in the wake of the stormblast they survived in his previous work, weaknesses once exposed and mercilessly ravaged now nurtured until they’re fully understood like a surgeon patching up a patient. There are two sides to every coin and Kelly’s ability to illustrate both in such quick succession hints that he possesses that rare self awareness needed to really hit home with every release – happiness no doubt lies between such polarised extremities and rarely have they been captured so vividly on record. Ideally get both this and ‘Teethed Glory And Injury’ for the full picture but even as a standalone ‘What’s Between’ has the potency to move the listener where others can only politely brush past.

Check out : 'Heart Is A Far Light', beamed in from somewhere deep inside.

4. Eagulls - s/t

A recurring gripe of mine these days is that the UK isn’t producing the standard of decent guitar music it has been known for in the past – this is part disappointment for a lack of new indie bands to get excited but also a genuine concern for the demise of a fundamental outlet for local youth looking to blow off a bit of steam and air their grievances over something constructive. Call it romanticising the past if you like but the way I see it we’ve let the commercial evolution of the music industry run ragged over the lower rungs on the ladder to the extent that forming a band now seems like a decadent distraction reserved for the fabulously wealthy, and whilst it’s not that trust fund babies never make decent records there does seem to be a gaping hole further down the trough that used to be filled by kids from more ordinary backgrounds expounding on their own situation in the hope that others would find something familiar in there. It’s an established truth that guitar music doesn’t sell records like it used to and as such a snotty disdain for indie rock has crept in over recent years as if those still producing it have yet to shake off the previous decade’s hangover, the quick burning rage of punk too often patronised in favour of career-stable electro that tickles the senses but rarely lands a knockout blow. There’s the odd exception of course – a good dealing of press attention has been fawned over Fat White Family and although their ramshackle punk sounds like it’d be great fun live it nevertheless remains little more than the soundtrack to another hipster piss up rather than a genuinely engaging examination of the modern British mindset. That is of course where Eagulls come in. Wanton hedonism has been a trademark of British youth for some time now but what sets apart these volatile times for today’s kids is a fidgety lack of direction that can easily spill over into destructive rage, a listlessness in the face of an enemy too shapeless to take aim at that frequently leaves the shooter unsure about where to point the weapon but unable to resist the urge to pull the trigger. All this needs to be documented by those living it on a day to day basis – writing about it from a distance cocooned by layers of metaphor isn’t enough. Eagulls’ blistering debut struck a nerve this year precisely because it brought those feelings to the surface – this isn’t The Clash taking potshots at well chosen authority figures, this is a bunch of lads from scattershot locations in the North of England fusing into one collective charge of refreshingly honest inertia-driven catharsis. We met the band after they played last year and they were all beamingly positive, enthusing over their record’s cover photo of a once-proud council block abandoned to decay and you sense that there’s a lot more to their game that blithely stating how crap things are – they may linger on gory detail in some instances but that’s only to flesh out a bigger picture, one of a world they feel can ultimately improve if we can only concentrate on what’s important. But the journey to any change begins with taking stock of what’s wrong and ‘Eagulls’ perfectly encapsulates the mood of our times, howling into a void left by the deterioration of institutions we once took for granted desperately searching for a place to stick its boot. British guitar music had no better representatives this year than these adventurous tykes.

Check out : 'Possessed' live on Letterman - showing Future Islands how it's done.

3. The Dead Mantra - Lemure

Though it is primarily known overseas for the effortless Versaillais chic of its electro (and occasional indie) outfits, French music has always had a love for dissonance that runs through much of its more engaging material. The country boasts a vibrant garage rock scene that churns out countless road-toughened bands pumping out echoic psychobilly and gnarled psychedelia to thrill audiences in whatever toilet venue they can find to play in, often drawing on influences much of the mainstream media has long since abandoned to the annals of history. The scene is refreshing in that few if any of the bands receive anything like the level of exposure they deserve, although this does mean that watching them play remains an attractively cheap option and it also shields them from the miserable scene politics that mire the crowded confines of the North American and British indie circuits. We’re doing our best at Indie500 to unearth the best of the bunch and no band blew us away more this year than Le Mans’ The Dead Mantra whose ‘Gregorian Shoegaze’ had us flapping with delirious ecstasy like two sea lions who’d just been tossed a large and extremely tasty fish. Whether or not they’ll pursue that description through to completion remains to be seen but for the time being it’s a pretty decent description of where they fit in on the register of echo rock, their sound booming out like spectral waves spilling into a gargantuan religious edifice and crashing back from each surface in a torrent of brutal volume and shattered stained glass. Opener ‘Holy Dawn’ projects like hypno-rock stalwarts OM waking from a long hibernation and when they kick into gear there’s no hiding from their ruthless assault on the senses – imagine they spleen-venting rasp of Nirvana’s ‘Bleach’ and MaryChain’s ‘Never Understand’ channelled through the multi-layered echo rush of A Place To Bury Strangers and you’re somewhere close. Whilst shoegaze has been adopted elsewhere as an excuse for airy complacency and directionless romantic musing The Mantra employ it as a powerhose set to full blast to knock away the supports and send the listener spinning into a void of vibrant sound and feeling, guitar riffs discharged at point blank range into the nearest surface to reverberate back through you like a heart tremor to leave you shuddering yet wildly intrigued. The yowled bliss-out of ‘Mxeico’ might just be the most stylish account opener since Ride’s ‘Chelsea Girl’ back when the genre had only just emerged from the ocean and there’s every indication these lads might chart a trajectory that’s equally thrilling to follow. Any doubts we might have had about whether they’d be able to cut it live were instantly dispelled when they brought the show to Paris and drenched La Mecanique Ondulatoire with a blistering set that bent heads out of shape like nothing we’ve seen in recent months – you know when the drummer shows up in a Burzum T-shirt that something pretty devastating is about to be unleashed. ‘Lemure’ is packed full of promise for future greatness and is a startlingly potent first step on a journey that will surely lead them to yet greater heights and we will certainly be there to eagerly take in their next offensive.

Check out : 'Mxeico', maybe the year's most thrilling two and a half minutes.

2. Nothing - Guilty Of Everything

If there’s been a theme to my favourite guitar releases of the last couple of years it’s been rehabilitation, music used both as a coping process in itself but also as a recreation of the emotional voyage from bad to good. Deafheaven’s beautifully discordant ‘Sunbather’ LP from last year topped my picks of 2013 with a disarming marriage of chaotic destruction and blissful rebirth and this year’s Wife LP (see earlier) evoked similar feelings of structured recovery from turbulent hysteria, each time leaving the toxic genesis of the ills intact to provide context for their eventual cure. Whilst there’s clear traces of a fraught emotional history in either package you still feel that the creators are probably nice boys at heart so what sets Nothing apart from the pack is that their frontman Dominic Palermo will admit from the start that he has not always conducted himself like a true gentleman and it’s this feeling of shame and dishonour that gives their debut LP ‘Guilty Of Everything’ that extra push to really knock you on your arse. Palermo’s roots in hardcore punk saw him lose himself in the real time violence that so often accompanies the music resulting in a two year jail spell for aggravated assault and attempted murder and it was in this context that ‘Guilty’ was forged – it’s certainly an eye-catching narrative but similar tales have been told by ego-hungry musicians eager to illustrate how far they’ve had to travel to gain the adulation they now enjoy (see Falling In Reverse’s Ronnie Radke for today’s most unpalatable example) without ever translating into anything more than emotional exhibitionism and scattershot accusations at those deemed responsible for their plight. But there’s no soul-bearing here, indeed if anything Palermo’s doing exactly the opposite – his musical shift from splenetic hardcore to warm guitar fuzz pop signalling the realisation that catharsis comes with its own limitations, allowing for the airing of grievances but failing to cater to the identification of their source. Here he’s bathing in each step of the recovery process, acknowledging his own shortcomings as part of a gradual evolution and providing a laudably candid view of his mindset to those interested in how it feels to claw yourself back from one giant fuck up. Handled with less grace this could easily be perceived as a plea for sympathy but the music doesn’t reach out to the listener for anything other than basic understanding, slowing the pace of his delivery to calmly present his mindset rather than engaging in the frantic clamour for recognition that dominates more aggressive releases. ‘Guilty Of Everything’ could’ve easily landed 20 years ago, its lysergic swirl and deftly handled momentum evoking US alt noise stalwarts Hum and even Soungarden at their darkest and bleakest –we tend to overlook Grunge’s own roots in DIY North American hardcore in favour of the magazine cover alienation of the MTV years but trace back any of the era’s better bands and you’ll probably find grass roots punk rock and rabid spleen-venting. Consider ‘Guilty Of Everything’ a rediscovery of that particular path two decades later, children reliving the same trial and error challenges faced by their parents as the cycle of abuse rolls defiantly onward. This might not be the year’s cheeriest release but it will leave you with a sense of composure upon completion, a sense that some kind of breakthrough has been made. I won’t hold it against Palermo if his next release is a cheerier affair – for his own sake I sincerely hope it is – but for the moment he’s turned his own plight into something truly remarkable.

Check out : 'Endlessly', a surprisingly accessible view into a complex universe.

1. Kate Tempest - Everybody Down

It's actually fairly rare these days that a new record comes along as an out and out favourite in my own best album lists - it's much easier to lay down such an accolade in hindsight after the record in question has had a few years on the boil to take on characteristics and significance that link it indelibly to the circumstances of its release. This year however it was clear from the outset - nothing really came close to the shot in the arm I got from Kate Tempest's thunderous arrival on the UK music scene that saw her narrowly miss out on the Mercury Music Prize and garner enough critical acclaim to keep her name in the press without threatening her with the trappings of a genuine superstar. I'm actually glad the major plaudits were directed elsewhere as it leaves 'Everybody Down' as my own private pleasure, something I can turn my friends onto in smug confidence that they won't already own a copy. Tempest's charm stems from her ability to turn phrase like a poet, construct narrative like a novelist and still pitch her product with the everyman sincerity of a mate in the pub, a straight to the heart approach that remains beautifully evocative and disarmingly articulate. She's been widely compared to The Streets' Mike Skinner and this should be taken as a constructive compliment rather a slapdown accusation of plagiarism - in truth Tempest engages with the same ease as her Kronenberg-chugging counterpart but wields a richer lyrical arsenal and a greater understanding of Hip Hop dynamics, her lines flowing and wrapping themselves around each other like the genre's most adept storytellers. The tale built into 'Everybody Down' runs along the same lines as 'A Grand Don't Come For Free' but fleshes out its characters with a humane understanding you'd expect from a box set HBO series, avoiding simple stereotypes and constructs and instead giving people real feelings and identities, shying away from outright judgement in favour of a more understanding examination of what make us all tick and where right and wrong decisions come from. Whilst many of her Hip Hop peers revel in kitchen sink shock value Tempest seems well-suited to her chosen genre precisely because of its scope for complex description and narrative balance, weaving lines around the contours of her protagonists until they almost come out of the speakers and stroll off into everyday life. She's got the lyrical skills to rival any of today's posturing MCs but none of the compulsion to simply show off and her employment of considerable talent serves only to turn what could by a fly by night vignette into a thoroughly engrossing listen. 'Everybody Down' doesn't let up for a second across its twelve chapter dash through drugs deals gone wrong, flawed romance and vaulting ambition and Tempest tops her best on every track, each time coming back with a new manoeuvre to leave your jaw hanging open and your head nodding in time with her flow. It's been a while since something knocked me for six like this and repeated spins over the course of the year have served only to entrench my view that nothing comes close to topping Tempest at full tilt. If 2014 needed a star then it surely found it elsewhere, however if the year was lacking a mercurial talent to stun and amaze then there could be no doubt that 'Everybody Down' was just what the doctor ordered. 

Check out : 'Marshall Law', the opening salvo to what turns out to be an unforgettable ride.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Best of 2014 Part Five : 10-6

10. A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Sea When Absent

2014 marked the 30th anniversary of Cocteau Twins' 'Treasure' LP and JAMC's 'Upside Down' single, perhaps the two most pivotal releases in the history of echo-laden indie rock - I'm avoiding the term shoegaze as it wouldn't even entered media vernacular until the dawn of the 1990s which goes to show that this kind of sound has existed in the periphery of British music for much longer than we've been able to adequately describe it. Scotland's DIY indie scene has played a particularly vital role in nurturing the more introverted talents of British guitar music and it's only fitting that Yanks A Sunny Day In Glasgow have chosen to ply their nu-gaze trade under a mantle referencing the music's heartlands, although it should be made clear that 'A Sea When Absent' is no mere tribute to their forefathers. The band come at you from all angles from the word go, flooding your senses with wave upon wave of blissed out reverb and vocal loops that pile up on each other to leave you spinning through space like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole. Imagine being on an island assailed by several separate tides at the same time and you're somewhere close. One of my friends claimed a few years back to have reached a moment of clarity at Glastonbury which led to him taking all the drugs he'd brought along for the weekend as one giant pharmaceutical cocktail and I imagine the state of sensory refreshment he reached as a result felt something like this sounds. It's not that this sort of thing hasn't been attempted before, it's more that it hasn't been pulled off with quite this much aplomb - Sunny Day build up gargantuan frescos over six or seven minute tracks that take you through a spectrum of gorgeous headstates to leave you giddy and flushed with ecstasy upon completion. 'A Sea When Absent' delighted and confused more than any other trip that landed in 2014 and deserves to be lauded as the next step forward in the canon of dreamy guitar music. 

Check out : 'Bye Bye Big Ocean', total submersion into deep and fascinating waters.

9. Pallbearer - Foundations Of Burden

The long and winding road linking modern Metal to its roots in old Blues has taken in numerous thrilling stylistic offshoots but sooner or later things will fall back into that familiar groove of heavy guitar licks and lingering melancholy. Ever since Sabbath's leaden dirge rock first belched out of the industrial midlands as an antidote to the flower power era this sort of music has been around to soundtrack the darker side of the human psyche, the one that recognises sadness and aggression and voluntarily elects to swim deeply in such waters rather than ignoring them in the hope they'll disappear. The riffs and drumbeats are what piques your interest but what keeps you around is the gothic melodrama within the music, the downward tug of elements opening up chasms beneath your feet as you fall flailing into the void. Pallbearer's position at the front of Doom's current regiment owes a great deal to their harnessing of this flailing sensation, a lucid descent into madness that echoes throughout their gargantuan second album to stunning effect. 'Foundations Of Burden' is the work of a young band sounding like it has decades of hopeless toil behind it, grimly accepting its own fate but taking some pleasure from ruminating on the view as the world falls down around it. Each of the six tracks on show here is a mission to the very heart of their futile universe, the music built not around sense-battering savagery but rather a drawn out examination of Metal's dreamier elements, guitars wailing and vocals booming forth like vibrations from beneath the Earth's crust. This is a journey you can't afford to miss - don't even think of it as a Metal record, consider it more a deeper study into the thunderous riff rock doing the rounds right now in the indie press, a more complete package unadulterated by the pull of mainstream radio and free to really revel in the doomy magnificence of heavy guitar music. 'Foundations Of Burden' was deservedly on a number of best of 2014 lists and once again the hype is truly justified - this was the year's most epic release by some distance.

Check out : 'Vanished' - after 11 and a half minutes of this you'll have forgotten what day it is.

8. Aphex Twin - Syro

The somewhat predictable appearance of 'Syro' on virtually every best of 2014 list out there leads us to one of two possible conclusions. One : music journalists are a bunch of complacent thirty-somethings longing for their youth and thus guaranteed to latch onto anything rekindling the vibe of 1990s electronic music regardless of its quality, babbling endlessly about how the new stuff from dance music's veterans towers above the output of younger competitors whilst witlessly losing the objectivity that allowed them to appreciate such artists when they originally surfaced in the music's formative era. Or Two : it's just really fucking good. To justify my own choice let's just say that there have been other comeback records from electronic artists who were part of the original rave era that have passed me by completely - I'm not gonna name names in order to keep these posts positive but let's just say providing the soundtrack to beanbag philosophy sessions back in 1994 doesn't necessarily mean you can still cut it in the crowded landscape of electronic music two decades later. The reason 'Syro' connected with such a wide audience is that it succeeded in changing whilst staying the same, maintaining Richard James' trademark metallic clang yet factoring in a feeling of steadier, almost calmer logic to it. Aphex used to delight in pranging you with unsettling noise blasts and demonic samples and whilst you still feel he could whip out his bag of bad trip tricks at any moment there's less of a pressing need to do so, his inclination to fuck with your head tempered by a growing fondness for more playful journeys across the bleep spectrum. The dude's a father these days and you can kind of imagine his offspring contributing to the mix here, individual elements and effects thrown in almost as if they'd been picked out by an enthusiastic infant trawling through dad's sound library. The Aphex insignia is still clearly present on every note here, his distinctive electronic blorps and squiggles bubbling to the surface of each thrilling composition like the primo cuts from his earlier material to bring the stylistic freeform bliss of the rave era to life without resorting to common nostalgia or retro fetishism. There's nothing as direct as 'Donkey Rhubarb', nothing as clanging as 'Ventolin', nothing as bizarre as 'Windowlicker' and nothing as weightless as his Selected Ambient Works stuff but 'Syro' succeeds in evoking everything in between for one seamless rush of fascinating electronica and its dwarfing of 2014's competition is merely a by product of his deft execution and mastery of his art. 

Check out : 's950tx16wasr10', like being chased around by a swarm of cartoon insects.

7. Kele - Trick

The British indie boom of the mid noughties is far enough behind us now for the music to sound genuinely old fashioned, those angular guitar lines and overblown regional accents prompting modern day reactions similar to those elicited from Beavis and Butthead when faced with the worst aspects of 80s MTV excess. Those years have gone by quickly for those of us who remember them yet are still fresh enough in memory for their sonic characteristics to prompt adverse reactions - none of us need reminding how much younger and slimmer we were when the first Editors LP came out and seeing the audiences that turn out for the surviving bands of that era only reminds us of our own mortality. It's a harsh environment for the skinny-jeaned stars of yesteryear and navigating your way through a new decade can prove tricky - you might have been the coolest thing since sliced bread back in 2005 but knowing where to fit in ten years down the line requires a sensitivity that only the most savvy protagonists possess. The jury's still out on whether Bloc Party fit into this bracket, their fourth LP from a couple of years back leaving many questions unanswered over their future direction but frontman Kele Okereke has more than one trick up his sleeve and this second solo offering saw him move into cooler, more danceable territory without a brittle guitar lick or hi-hat tickle in sight. 'Trick' comes along four years after his 2010 debut which made a decent attempt at assimilating the electronic sounds of the time yet struggled to really stand out from the pack - this time however he's found his own style, namely the joyous House music of the late 80s which he channels perfectly over ten flawless slabs of modern day electronica. Whilst the era has already been strip-mined to saturation by the nerdier end of UK indie, few of the bespectacled Cambridge graduates using its vocabulary can actually feel their way around a Soul record but Kele succeeds in tapping into the music's heart by going at it as a vocalist rather than as producer, stepping to stage front to preach the gospel like House's greatest mic threats (think Ten City's Byron Stingily, Inner City's Paris Red or even Adeva in places). Bloc Party's riff-based charge often masked Kele's own vocal ability but here he's free to shine and every track here is a euphoric rush of love, hope and positivity from a man who sounds like he's really enjoying himself. The lyrics tackle loneliness, confidence and the dating game with the optimistic sincerity of a 30-something gay bloke navigating his way through modern life (Kele only really nailed his colours to the mast a couple of years back) and the reflective moments are complemented perfectly by some joyous anthems to the pleasures of fly by night romance, his touch steady enough to bring the story to life in vivid detail without it ever seeming gratuitous. This was the record I put on this year to cheer myself up, positivity just beaming out from every track as the record lights up the room with each spin. Bloc Party may be back, they may not but on this evidence I don't even care any more - Kele's got his groove back and 'Trick' shows him firing on all cylinders as the new decade progresses. His best years are surely still to come.

Check out : 'Like We Used To', a loved-up thumper that wouldn't sound out of place on Dance Energy.

6. Warpaint - s/t

We're halfway through the decade already - HALFWAY!! - so  it seems like a lifetime since Warpaint's debut landed back in late 2010 in the midst of the chill wave phenomenon. Looking at the other bands who surfaced around the same time it's difficult to imagine them unleashing a record that'd really get you excited now but the anticipation that built up prior to  the release of Warpaint's long-awaited second salvo in January hinted that they might just be the band to break the mould all over again. Media led efforts to cram the band into some sort of musical pigeonhole dictated by their gender, political bias or compositional style missed the point - here was a band who were off in a field of their own, locked into a four part unit orbiting undiscovered galaxies and beaming back in the results to planet Earth for the rest of us to pick apart and scrutinise. Their second LP sees them sharper and more focussed than their blissed out debut, their ideas taking on 3 dimensional form and coming out of the speakers to interact with you like never before - there's a discernible humanity to their music that's missing in many of their more plastic peers and with the possible exception of Foals they're perhaps the only guitar band right now capable of mobilising the indie press in these unforgiving times. Listening to them is hypnotic but only in the sense that their evolution is spellbinding in itself, a captivating trawl through rhythmic subdivisions and shimmering guitar effects that remains firmly rooted to indie rock yet seem confident enough to pull it out of the dark ages and into the bright future that lies ahead. Trying to ape their sound would be nigh on impossible as there's not one single element to home in on, the mix taking you somewhere new precisely because you can't quite pinpoint where the charm stems from - they're pushed forward by a thousand individual ingredients that are laid out just right to cushion the fall and roll you through swathes of lucid atmospherics like you're on the comedown from the best high of your life. They're at their best when they're away from stage front, the album's quieter passages bringing out the intricacies of between the lines emotional states, those fleeting moments when you don't really know whether to laugh or cry - you might not get all of it on first listen or even fifteenth listen but you know you'll keep coming back regardless as newer elements are shaken from the ocean floor with each spin. And when they really connect they're stronger and more forthright than even before, the swirling groove fleshing out new anthemic cuts like 'Disco/Very', 'Keep It Healthy' and 'Love Is To Die' to carry the torch forward from where they left it with 'Undertow' and 'Billie Holliday' a few years back. As I said before there is still nobody out there like them but that's not the point - individuality will only thrill you for so long but true depth of vision will keep you coming round time after time for a fresh look and 'Warpaint' suggests that these gals are in it for a journey that promises to remain consistently rewarding for years to come.

Check out : the bumper 'Disco/Very - Keep It Healthy' promo vid for a good place to start.