Heart – Echoglass (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Echoglass has always been a band able to offer up a shifting array of styles and genres finding their consistency more in the less musical elements, the lyrical depth, the lingering melancholy which seems to haunt their music, their often quintessential Englishness…actually, make that quintessential northernness, the intimacy of their deliveries and any number of less tangible qualities. Heart sees them displaying this ability to the fullest. Whilst most bands try to turn your head with obvious impact, punchy shows of strength, bland and pointless lyrical catches, Echoglass has always gone the other way. Theirs is a quest for essence and authenticity, of drilling down into mood and meaning, of painting small but resonant sonic pictures.

Heart is a strange and effective mix of baroque-pop balladry, and melodic yet considered indie. The lyrical lines seem to belong to the former, understated and measured, the music to the latter, both keeping the other in check to stop the song from wandering too far towards more well-worn sonic realms. And as the song travels towards its lovely and logical conclusion, it cocoons itself with more energetic music trappings yet somehow remains in a wonderfully composed state. Raw guitar riffs and chiming keyboards join the fray but seem to add texture rather than weight before the song fades into silence, the music having gone but the emotions and feelings which it stirred up remaining.

If you are looking for references then perhaps bands such as Elbow and, for those with longer memories, Black’s majestic jazz-infused pop certainly point you in the right direction but even they tell less than half the story. Like those two aforementioned touchstones, vocally we are a long way from what you might expect from a band working in roughly an indie and pop arena. The tones falling somewhere between, perhaps, Bryan Ferry and Morrissey and the boy-girl play-offs reminiscent of Deacon Blue at their most seductive.

But references are distracting at best…at worst, wrong, mine included. Essentially, Echoglass sound like a band which should have been prominent in the late 80’s but have instead bided their time, waiting until they were most needed. And why are they needed so much?  Well, just tune your radio to a commercial station. Is this really the future we wanted for ourselves? No. Is Echoglass the answer? They certainly could be part of it.

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