Vynyl

The Man Who Died In His Boat is the kind of album suited for those moments when you can just run away with your thoughts. It would suit lying in the grass in the summer. It would suit sitting by your window and watching the rain pat away on the glass. Grouper have created a marvel in the sparsity of their music; they don’t feel so much as songs as they do a soundtrack to everyday life. Unobtrusive, it is made more to sit against the back of other sounds than replace them.

The opening track “Vital” sets the tone for the album in a very concise fashion. The wishy-washy, heavily reverbed vocals stack up beautifully against the somber guitar, with the sound of waves crashing in the distance filling some space in the texture. “Cover The Long Way” experiments with layered vocals to create almost a melody of their own, crashing against each other in a way reminiscent of “I Never Learnt To Share” (James Blake). 

The only track to differ from the formula here is closing track “6”, clocking in at just under 2 minutes. No guitar or vocals present, just a mashing together of dissonant synths, slowly resolving to a single note or chord.

There may be a lack of variation on display, but this doesn’t hinder the music so much as it could alienate listeners. You won’t be singing along, or dancing about - this is a much more relaxed affair. This is the soundtrack to everyday life. 7/10

Feb 28
28/02 - Grouper, “The Man Who Died In His Boat”

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Not so much an album as a double A side single, Tenderly/Flow is what put Disclosure on the map in 2012, as well as making their full length effort (due next March) hotly anticipated. The house/garage duo know how to bring the party.

Tenderly is a relatively straightforward song - there is no verse/chorus structure here. Instead, we have 5 minutes of layer after layer being brought in, adding new dimension and depth to the song as it progresses. We start with a clap beat and thumping chord progression to the repetition of Just thinking about you / You give me these feelings, and already the song just makes you want to stay. Layers of bass notes and arpeggiated synths are slowly dropped into the mix, making the song almost impossibly funky.

Flow has a similar beginning to Tenderly in that all seems calm; we know that soon enough it will be impossible to not swing along with the beat. More suited to a club environment than the previous track, Flow’s stabbing bass line pumps through the track, allowing the synths to come and go as they please in different forms, without the song diverting greatly from it’s theme. Flow, flow, get on the flow / Come get me, come get me sits on the mix brilliantly, not taking focus from the bass but simply adding a reason for the song to be shouted along to.

Flow/Tenderly showcases why Disclosure are causing waves; they are bringing pumping House and Garage tunes but adding their own special touch, taking it to an entirely new level. Great things will be expected come March.

Dec 23
Albums of 2012: Disclosure - Tenderly/Flow

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The sophomore album from Sheffield-ians Little Comets sees the band really start to carve out their own niche in an possibly saturated indie rock market. The songs on offer here are overall a calmer affair than the tracks off their debut effort In Search Of Elusive Little Comets (Adultery, One Night In October, Dancing Song) but they have lost none of the energy that garnered them fans the first time around. Robert Coles’ croon seems to settle in the songs better on this second album; tracks like “Bayonne” and “W-O-E” perfectly suit the way his vocals cut through the track. “Worry” and “Waiting In The Shadows In The Dead Of Night” (Worry EP), “Jennifer” and “Violence Out Tonight” (Jennifer And Other Short Stories EP) blend effortlessly into the tracklisting, with the new tracks built in around these all possessing the angular, yet laidback rhythm section that has done them so well this far.

The song which best exemplifies Little Comets’ mastery of danceable indie-rock would be “The Western Boy”. A mix of interesting, interwoven guitar lines, fantastic laid back approach to the 6/8 time signature from the kit and Coles’ heartbreaking words of love and loss - And you should wash me away / ‘Cos one day I’ll wake up / And I won’t need you - hang long in the memory after the album has ended.

Little Comets came back to a full length album after a year in which they released 2 4-track EPs, and boy, did they deliver. A top notch effort from a band whose only limit is their ability to keep cranking out jump-about masterpieces. Stand-out Tracks: Jennifer, Bayonne, The Western Boy

Dec 23
Albums of 2012: Little Comets - Life Is Elsewhere