Some music hits the review pile to the voice in my head muttering “oh, them again, I suppose I might find time to write that up.” Other music evokes a pleasant, “Ahh, that should be a good listen.” Then there is music that falls into the category of, “ Man, I’ve missed you.” Phil Wilson and his music vehicle The Raft, are definitely in the latter pile. Whilst some bands manage to stay true to one sound, one style, one musical allegiance, and that is fine if you just want to play to then gallery, the thing I love about Phil’s songwriting and the music that he makes with The Raft, is that whilst there is definitely a cohesive and coherent shape to the music being made, it seems woven out of so many threads, so many styles, so many inspirations and references. It’s like holding a gem up to the light and watching the the colours change and shimmer, and calling this latest album a gem is more than just a handy analogy.
There is something of Dream Academy’s lush soundscaping about opener Light Light, not least in Phil’s soft vocals and chiming guitars, and the song’s cinematic qualities are a good indication of where this album comes from. But whereas the Academy loved to float, it is the fact that The Raft is as much about groove as grandeur that stops the album drifting off into more purely ambient climes. Proof of which comes along in the form of The Boy With No Soul, a song that seems to blend indie-pop melodies with walls of shoegazing guitar work, and it is play-offs such as this that really makes the music stand out. The ability to write solid, groovesome melody lines anchors the music and stops the soundscaping from drifting too far out of earshot but it is that psychedelic, dreamscape quality that prevents this from wandering too close to the work-a-day, indie also-rans.
This blend of solidity and haze defines Joab, a glorious interplay of guitar textures – rhythmic acoustic folk, deft grace notes, soaring indie and searing rock and roll all building the clever and straight-forward pop tune hiding at the core into something kaleidoscopic and truly anthemic. Louie and Julie is a gorgeous bridge between the innocent pop of the 60’s and the pastel coloured revivalism of the likes of The Lilac Time a generation later and This Time is a gloriously lilting way to gently ease us out of the album.
In a run of truly remarkable releases, Abloom is the most remarkable yet. It stays close to the The Raft’s signature sound(s) but it is the fact that the sound is so big, so inclusive, so intricate yet is used to fashion songs so addictive, so memorable, so sumptuously adorable that makes them such a fascination and joyous prospect. File under “Why aren’t this band massive?”