Thursday, 17 January 2013

reviews: satellites, the ruby suns, indians

 Satellites - Satellites.01 (***)
Satellites.01 originally touched down in early 2011, in a limited run that was evidently too niche for such an ambitious-sounding record. Though imperfect, these smartly-presented transmissions certainly merit wider exposure, with the album’s finest moments raising the nape hairs and triggering goosebumps.

Satellites is the nom-de-plume of Johnny Vic, whose baritone vocals signal The National as a key influence, with his delivery in Where Love Lies Bleeding particularly Matt Berninger-ish. But Vic doesn’t always balance rousing grandeur and reigned-tight emotion with the same poise as the aforementioned Ohioans; the build-and-release surge of Mindreading, for instance, steers close to Snow Patrol at their most efficiently stadium-hungry.

Yet by the time Sale of the Century rolls around, faith is restored, its symphonic splendour reaching for the stars without pandering. Satellites.02 will follow in March; if it shows a little more willingness to eschew tried-and-tested sounds, Vic could be onto something very special indeed.

Out 21st January

 The Ruby Sun - Christopher (***)
On fourth album Christopher, New Zealander Ryan McPhun has pushed The Ruby Suns further still from their psychedelic-threaded indie origins, embracing a dancefloor-friendly aesthetic to mostly swish effect. Inspired by time spent immersed in Oslo’s arts scene, it sees McPhun continue down a path first paced with 2010’s Fight Softly, combining lush melodies with intricate, disco-lite production.

The opening trio are arguably the record’s peak accomplishments: Desert of Pop struts to the same blueprint as Electronic's Getting Away With It; In Real Life elevates the elation with faint echoes of Kool and the Gang; while Dramatikk is a bubbling, laidback gem. But for all its early promise, later stretches feel detached and even a little hollow, melting into an undistinguished zeitgeist sound when once The Ruby Suns stood out a little more distinctly. Pristine and glittery on the surface, but not enough to push McPhun up a league.

Out 28th January

Indians - Somewhere Else (***)

One year ago, Indians – aka Copenhagen’s Søren Løkke Juul – had yet to release a song or play a gig. Now he’s got 4AD backing his debut album, a tour log featuring support slots with the likes of Beirut and Perfume Genius, and a fair bit of (deserved) buzz to boot.

But if the speed of his naught-to-lots trajectory seems rushed, the calm confidence of Somewhere Else provides immediate reassurance, with an impressive opening run of tracks that pairs the fresh (Birds’ fluttering euphony) with the already familiar (the gentle embrace of New; the barely-there sparkle of Magic Kids), ably affirming his readiness.

Admittedly, small doubts later set in thanks to directionless stretches that, while reinforcing the record’s dreamlike atmosphere, lack the spark of highlights like La Femme or the theramin-infused title track. But on those occasions where Juul’s stars align and he hits the sweet spot, the effect is heavenly.

Out 28th January

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