Esoteric Antenna 2014
Burning souls and torching ecstasy find their way onto the Swindonians’ sophomore set of songs.
True to their name and the fire on the cover, this quartet’s second album is pointed upwards as if to swing back from their 2012’s debut "Wired To Earth" which found ex-XTC’s Dave Gregory join forces with a younger crop. If that record reveled in the suite layout of not-so-quiet desperation, “Scorch” follows the advice of its closing piece, “Come To Light,” although the best moments now focus on body parts rather than panoramic views. Art rock doesn’t mean rejection of the physical after all, especially when it embodies something conceptually bigger.
It’s breezy where the airy strum and bassist Mark Kilminster’s glossy voice in “Summer Now” radiates romanticism before it pours into a silvery solo, yet the riffing opener “Carnivore” is deliberately demo-esque and sounds like a backing track demanding vocals – thus setting a longing into the album’s heart. That’s why the most riveting compositions are the mellifluously infectious “Little Eyes” and “Old Hands”: their vocal harmonies and six-string stack hide magnetic insistency until an angular burst unfurls a slider caress and an acoustic lace in the former and a sweet twang in the latter. After that comes a pop threat of “Binary Man” that introduces piano to the mix and showcases the dynamic sensibility of the rhythm section, while the funky jitter in “Wrapped And Tied” demonstrates how tight the interplay between Gregory and second guitarist Daniel Steinhardt can be.
Contrasting the tension is an exquisitely chamber instrumental “She Moves Among Us” – but all of this turns out to be mere elements from which the 15-minute “Garden State” is built. Bound to become the band’s analogue of “Stairway To Heaven” in the paradise stakes, the multi-section epic takes the listener through the mesmeric motions and shifts from folk to prog to disco to the place where all the answers are given and the scorching desire is quenched. A blissful auto-da-fé for the psyche is here!