29 January 2017

Amber Run - For A Moment, I Was Lost

Amber Run are a band from Nottingham, formed in 2012 and have had a blazing start to their career.  Playing Reading Festival on their fourth show, chased by record labels and finally signed and releasing their first album ‘5am’, all seemed to be heading towards a golden moment for them.  But everything was not as golden as they might have seemed; they were dropped by their former label RCA, their drummer at the time left without warning, the anxiety of the situation was causing health difficulties and their world looked as if it was falling apart.  For some bands, that would have been it and they could have easily have split up; but Amber Run decided to have a look at themselves, dusted themselves off and went for the second album.  They also decided to stop holding back, to discuss their own mental health issues and to lay it all on the line; that can be seen as either a brave move or setting yourself up for a fall.  Either way, it is one that the band are prepared to stand by and it is one that is also ready for reviewing – let us see how the album has turned out…..

01 – Insomniac

With a piano sound straight out of the 80’s and strangely familiar, ‘Insomniac’ does not linger on that introduction too long and it goes onto a tale of seeing an old friend who is cut off from the rest of the world and trying to understand what has went wrong to make this person want to give everything up.  It is a situation that I think a lot of people can relate to, I know I certainly have friends who would fit into that category.  Musically it is a cross between Catherine Wheel, Young Guns and Keane with no metal riffs added to the mix, a bit of pop indie mixed with some dark alternative indie to make a strong sound – but that piano riff it far too similar to other songs for comfort.

02 – No Answers

With a pulsing, reverb bass and a large slice of melancholy and denial, ‘No Answers’ has a lot of build and a strong tune that keeps it patience pace until the bridge when it all of sudden sounds like the patience’s level has been breached and all hell is unleashed.  Before the explosion, it was a calm and collective number; after the ran it still a bit polite and reserved in some ways to be honest.  But it does show that the band have claws and they will let their restraints go when required.  I really like it, it is an interesting number that improves with each listen.

03 – Island

A man who wants to be alone, but who also wants connections at the same time; a classic introvert situation and fully displayed on ‘Island’.    Musically there are some elements of Mogwai to the sound here, but it is an independent song that has its own style and clothes itself in some beautiful guitars, subtle bass, guiding synths in the background, a great drum performance (why are drummers not more celebrated???) and some great vocals.  It is a heart-breaking and conflicted number which would be a great choice to be released as a single from this album.

04 – Stranger

Comparing love to a stranger, someone who you do not recognise and at the same time is very familiar to you, this song keeps up the pace of the album which has not really deviated from that slow and melodic pace that has been the calling card of the first three songs (apart from the tension rip on ‘No Answers’) and whilst each has been performed very well (including this one), the album is starting to require a little piece of variation for my tastes.  A good song, but it there is a danger that the songs are starting to feel a little too similar here.

05 – Fickle Game

Well, they have decided to slow it down even further here, just as well it is beautifully crafted to be honest.  It is a game about wanting to make everything right and to stop the tit for tat lifestyle that has became part of a relationship and whilst it was once fun, now it is detrimental to the relationship.  As I stated at the beginning, this is a well-crafted, slow and good tune that does not remind me of ‘Wicked Game’ by Chris Issak what so ever.  However, slowing it down has not changed the dynamic of the album to be honest and whilst each song is individually good, it is not making for the happiest experience if we are honest – something that is obviously by design here.

06 – Haze

The half way point of this album is marked with a vocal effect drenched a Capella song that actually has an explosive point in the middle and it makes for a welcome break in proceedings.  I like it, it is a little short which actually works in its favour here.  A little change can help sometimes, this is a good example of this.

07 – White Lie

The smallest things can be your own undoing, the message of this song is that disaster is coming all around as the lethargic nature of the man does not want to change a thing.  There is rebellious undertone to the song, giving it an unexpected positive spin and it have that ‘X’ factor that saves a song of this nature from becoming an eye-rolling journey of self-loathing.  It is a song that lulls in places, but always for effect and not due to lack of momentum or talent.  It has a classic indie vibe with a modern production job, it is not trying to keep up with the trend hitters or be too respectful – it is a new direction with a nod to the past sound wise and I love that.

08 – Perfect

Even more contradiction to the inner workings of the man, now it is a hymn to wanting to be perfect and have karma on their side, it is a loud classic rock sound to this song.  It is a bust of energy that has been required in some ways for this album, it takes the album by the scruff of the neck and drags it towards the end with a trail of glory and loud hooks.  It sparkles on this record as it makes such a racket with a riff that sticks in your mind for such a long time afterwards, I love this song as it has so many layers and never fails to entertain – not saying the rest of the record is not entertaining, but this one is a song that I would release as a single.

09 – Dark Bloom

A song about feeling let down by a loved one, someone you have put on a pedestal and they are now leaving through the outdoor exit of your life.  Its moody and heart-breaking subject matter is drenched in black indie rock, harrowing vocal delivery and another shot of energy to this album (but not in the same way as ‘Perfect’ as it returns to the slower roots of the album).  The way it deals with that bitter ending of a relationship is done with craftsman precision and it sounds beautiful.

10 – Machine

The lightest of touches are used on this song; is it about them being spat out by the recording industry, is it about a relationship, is it about something else?  It is full of self-doubt and confusion, a simple guitar and keyboard track that makes for a dark drop of reality that is sometimes hard to take.  Not my favourite on the album, but still well performed none the less.

11 – Are We Home?

The penultimate song of the album is continuing the lost vibe of ‘Machine’, making the plea for companionship and connection.  It has a drone quality to the ending of the song, but for the most part it is gentle, empty space song that lets the words float in the void between the notes and take a centre stage as everything else is in a supportive role.  A gentle song as we head towards the album exit.

12 – Wastelands

The end track of this album ‘Wastelands’ is a slow burning song that takes its time as it heads towards end.  It begins with a slow pace that is in no hurry, why should it be as it is setting out the scene.  Patience is the virtue here as the song continues towards the ending, it is all build and it ends with a sound that sounds as if it is in flight and it is a wonderful piece of music; there is a sense of release and farewell here and it ends the album on such a high note, a depressing note to be honest, but one that is of such a high quality.

Ok, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first.  This band make The Smiths, Elbow, The Cure, The National and a depressed Johnny Cash sound as if they were recorded in glorious sunshine, cool drinks and good time flowing and the world is in a good place.  The mood is so dark and helpless here that it extends the album time on the soul in hours as it feels it went on a lot longer than the forty-six minutes it is in the world.  It is a contradiction in terms in places and it needs a bit of energy every now and then for my tastes.  However, it is also beautifully performed, the songs are memorable (if a little bit too introverted – again, by design) and I cannot find anything wrong with that as they are dealing with the fallout of everything falling apart.  Yes, it is their own way of processing everything that happened to them and to act as a cathartic experience for their issues that came after the events following the release of their last album, but I think that they have opened a Pandora’s box for themselves in a way as they are opening their souls up to criticism.  It is such a good album that even the bits that are too dark are shinning lights to me, which shows the quality that is on offer.  Albums sometimes need to be made for people when everything is coming down and they need a lonely companion in the middle of the night, this record is one of those albums for me.  I really like it, but I feel I need a stiff drink afterwards to break the mood.  Bleak and beautiful, approach with care and with something to comfort you afterwards.

8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track – Perfect

You can pre-order For A Moment, I Was Lost on Amazon here.

You can visit the Amber Run website here.

You can follow the activities of Amber Run on Facebook here.

At the time of writing For A Moment, I Was Lost is not on Spotify; however,here is a link to their Spotify page so you can check out their other works – Iwill update this once it is released and on this service.

At the time of writing For A Moment, I Was Lost is not on Deezer; however, hereis a link to their Spotify page so you can check out their other works – I willupdate this once it is released and on this service.

At the time of writing For A Moment, I Was Lost is not on Tidal; however, hereis a link to their Spotify page so you can check out their other works – I willupdate this once it is released and on this service.

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