7 July 2015

And So I Watch You From Afar - Heirs

It is nice to see that we are not the only people who like really long titles..... Anyway, this is the fourth album from Belfast four-piece And So I Watch You From Afar.  The main reason for me knowing this band is mainly due to their wonder full and also because of VerseChorusVerse (aka Tony Wright), Mr Wright was one of the founding members of the band before he left in 2011 to pursue VCV; since then &SIWYFA have continued on their way and this is their second album since then.  Their last album called 'All Hail Bright Futures' and it was a fantastic record to listen to; it has been two years since that album came and it is nice to finally have a follow up to listen to and absorb.  I have seen these guys once and they were really good, also one of my friend's swears that this band is one of the best going and loves them a lot; however it is time to see how 'Heirs' shapes up against the other three albums by this lad's from Northern Ireland.

The first track of the album is called "Run Home”; starting with voices in unison before erupting into a stomping waterfall of guitars, vocal noise and smashing drums that gives way to a section of music that some people will undoubtedly compare to Biffy Clyro (which is a little unfair and too easy) due to the angular nature of the riff; but make no mistake about it, these guys are their own masters and not followers of a different style.  But just when you think it was going to soar higher, they pull the plug and go all atmospheric and start the build even slower until it erupts like a geyser and the riffs start all over again. The contrast in the two parts of this song is very stark and beautiful.  "These Secret Kings I Know" brings another song that uses the loud/quiet dynamic to great effect; I like the way there are some vocals mixed into the song; but they are not too loud and almost become another instrument which is as relevant and important as the drum cymbal or the lower notes of the bass guitar - they are not dominating the song and it is a short sharp shock of a number.  With a tapping of drum sticks the band drop "Wasps" onto the audience and the atmospheric number starts off with a riff that sounds like a thousand wings in flight.  It has a rumbling drum sound and a good bass line as well; but sadly it does not develop as a tune.  Apart from a few sections where the guitars form a new riff and the part which comes across as a solo it is almost a drone track which is over before it has a change to give the listener time to fly.  Not a bad song, but a little too short of variation for me. 

"Redesigned a Million Times" has the uplifting vocals back again, almost sounding like a street choir and it all starts with a simple guitar riff that laps onto itself.  It is all very energetic on this number and it does change the feel about the album and gives it the energy that has been promised by the beginning to the album; this is the first track that does not start from scratch halfway through but actually brings that promise from the beginning of the song.  Fifth track "People Not Sleeping" makes an interesting entrance, without wanting to compare them to other acts it is very much in the same vein as Explosions In The Sky, Maybeshewill and Biffy Clyro in terms of style; however it is has its own personality and it does keep the listener engaged with that angular rock sound that goes in different directions to where it started.  "Fucking Lifer" is a much more bass lead song, it is the thumping core of this song that lets the rest of the band take a flight of fancy; it does have that familiar feeling to the song as it drives itself along, but it is still a decent number but I did find myself drifting in and out of the song even with repeated listens.

The seventh track of the album is called "A Beacon, A Compass, An Anchor" and it starts with a drifting vortex of noise that is cut through with a strumming guitar as the cymbals are tapped with increasing speed and the bass drum that quickens the pace for the listener.  Eventually, the song levels out with a quick pace drumming and light guitars that do not smoother the listener, but invite something to latch onto as the band build up the song and then, they explode into that intertwining sound that is very easy to get lost in.  It does start once again in the middle of the song to build up to another pinnacle of euphoria to give the audience a similar experience in the two sections of the song, after an almost metal breakdown around the four minute mark which feels at odds with the song.  It detracts from the song slightly and the end result is another decent number, but one that had loftier aims than its result.  Then we come to Animal Ghosts, it is another ok number which shows that these guys are really focused on this sonic soundscape that is their bread and butter; but this song has a conflicting drumming (which feels as if it was liberated from Queen) and the moody exterior of the guitar and dramatic (and well played) bass, which is laced with trumpets and choirs just seems to be alright when I can feel that the result was to be something much more.  The penultimate track is the longest song on the album and it is also the title track - "Heirs".  This is the most ambitious song on the album by default, it certainly lives up to the ambition that comes from within the group.  It is the track that lets the idea flow to its full potential and that makes this the song of the album for that alone.  There is not a wasted section of the song and it keeps your attention throughout the song.  However, to end the album we have "Tryer, You" which sees the band mix up all those previous style and add a bit of Little Comets and Vampire Weekend.  It feels like a coda to the mountain that was "Heirs", it is a gentle ending that does have echoes of the larger moments of the record, but with the feeling that everything is winding down.

I cannot help but feel disappointed here and that is not something I like to say to a band who I find interesting/entertaining/are actually really good; this album is decent when it should shine, it ends when it just gets interesting and with a few exceptions it goes on and repeats when it should have left it alone.  The band are much better than this, their talents are better than this and it is (whilst not being awful) an album that is below their own standards.  The fact I drifted in and out of this so many times that I was not sure I could make it to the end; it has taken me more than seven weeks and many attempts to actually get this review finished as I wanted to find something that would make me fall under its spell; it is with a heavy heart that I say that the magic is sadly over.

4.5 out of ten - Well it is alright, but still......

Top track - Heirs

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the &SIWYFA website here

You can follow their activities on Facebook here

You can purchase the album at their Bandcamp page as well

You can stream the album on Spotify here

You can stream the album from Deezer here if that is your service of choice

If Tidal is your streaming service, here is a link for you

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