And So I Watch You From Afar


Written by: LF on 09/10/2015 15:54:34

Some months ago the four-piece Irish rock band And So I Watch You From Afar released their fourth album "Heirs". While they're labeled as instrumental music in several places, this is not quite true. The band have vocals in many of their songs, but these boil down to shouted crowd-vocals that often work in the music much like an extra guitar riff or layer either because the lyrics are nothing but sounds or they consist of sentences that are repeated over and over. I should say that I have only been familiar with the band during their latest streak of very eclectic and mathy post-rock compositions that were released on their fun but challenging album "All Hail Bright Futures". On "Heirs" they continue where they left off in terms of busy, high-energy, forward-pushing style but this time around their music is more accessible.

That is not to say that the tempo is down or the compositions are not still all over the place for a good part of the album - in a good way. From the very first crescendos and crowd-vocals of "Run Home", it's evident that the energetic fun that shone through from the band on their previous record is an element that's just as present here. The frantic energy of the beginning of "Run Home" is indeed not something that you're likely to forget again after having first been attacked by it. The track is also remarkable in that it showcases the band's post-rock side more explicitly than the other tracks here by ebbing out into an ambient, quiet middle-piece after just one and a half minutes of intense guitar solos and shouted vocals. From here it glides up again very dramatically with some big airy tremolo guitars and it slides almost unnoticeably into the next track. There's not a lot of time for breaks on this album in general.

Still, even as most of the songs are pretty complex and dense in their constant usage of high-intensity rhythm patterns and very filled-out soundscapes, the newfound dominance of the guitar riffs and the support added to them by the vocal hooks give us something sufficiently tangible to hold on to while along for the rollercoaster ride. In several songs, like the ambitious "Wasps" with its grand atmosphere or the almost ballad-like sentimentality of "Animal Ghosts" that also features a more sweeping post-rock mood, there are long, steady movements to bang your head to. This diversity breaks up the album a little and makes sure that we're not being run over as listeners in quite the same way as we did on the band's previous record.

Of the more busy tracks, "People Not Sleeping" stands out in every play-through with its very danceable tempo and fun guitars that make me want to jump up and down with flailing arms every time it comes on. Just as well, the vocal hooks in "Redesigned a Million Times" and "These Secret Things I Know" make an impact every time although it takes a while to get a sense of them as linked songs and not just collections of one catchy element after another. This is definitely the main weakness of this band's music and it's probably not for everyone. The constant insisting bombardment of sounds can be tiring when it never quite gears down for the duration of the album. However, the band has come closer to finding a balance on this record that lets their very technical guitar-work shine without completely overwhelming the listeners to the point of oversaturation.

Download: Run Home, People Not Sleeping, Redesigned a Million Times
For The Fans Of: Maybeshewill, Adebisi Shank, Mutiny on the Bounty, Tera Melos, Totorro

Release date 04.05.2015
Sargent House

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