Tuesday, October 5, 2010
[subba-cultcha.com] A true meeting of the minds sparks a creative rebirth for the low-key shoe-gazers.
The U.K has always delivered the goods when it's come to low-key indie rock, from My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain through to Joy Division and Gang Of Four, we have always had a very particular way with guitar based melancholy (maybe it's the weather). Engineers follow this lineage with a melodic, widescreen sound that could have taken influence from any or all of the above. Songs build gradually from humble beginnings before eventually pouring out the speakers in a wash of shoe-gaze feedback and primal yet delicate rhythms. Over the top of everything is a blissful, electronic sheen courtesy of new recruit Ulrich Schnauss whose subtle keyboards lend the London 4 pieces third album (released a mere 15 months after their long delayed sophomore effort) a delectably hazy, 'morning after' vibe and it's this extra depth which turns a decent album into a very good one.
Opening with a spiralling whirlwind of gentle sound which sounds like the Flaming Lips caught in a vacuum cleaner, the album shifts between acoustic, string-laced pop, off-kilter psychedelia, dense shoe-gaze and meaty pop-rock in just under 35 minutes. This may seem a little slight but there's enough sonic invention packed into these 8 songs to justify the running time, there's not an inch of fat on these bones. An early highlight comes in the form of 'There Will Be Time' which underlines Engineers way with an understated melody and dynamic song structures as tumbling drums and elegiac keys are matched by gorgeous, circular guitars and a melody that Pink Floyd would have killed for. This dense, relaxed and yet strangely tense mood permeates through the entire record, in that sense it very much recalls the late Remy Zero's debut album (an underrated classic, be sure to check that out if you can but avoid the follow ups like the plague) in that it's oddly dusty sounding and beautiful in it's own way. This duty, detached sound is perfected on the achingly sad closing track 'Nach House', an instrumental lament which sounds like dying stars and ends the record on a decidedly sombre note.
A pleasant surprise then, there's nothing here as strong as the bands early singles (see the fantastic 'Come In Out Of The Rain' and 'Home') but as a body of work it's their most impressive release by far. If this wonderful record is anything to go by then more British rock bands should start seeking out their own German electronica wunderkind's because as deep as our history of melancholia is sometimes it takes an outside perspective to really bring out what's already there.
- Benjamin Hiorns
Posted by Dan Goldin at 10:41 PM