|My Heart Has A Wish That You Would Not Go ~ CD Ref: CHEM097 CD|
NME - 20th January, 2007
Awesome facial hair and awesome tunes
When these Glaswegian wonders first surfaced with their debut album 'A Story In White' in 2001, they were noted for their beards and fantastic post-metal misanthropy. Six years later, the luxurious facial hair remains, but the quartet are indulging in their more graceful side with an album that sounds like it was written as a soundtrack to the best film ever made. There's little you can do but gasp at the lush, orchestral majesty of 'Nightmares' and the swelling emotions of 'A Life Worth Living'. These are the kind of songs that literally force you to listen, such is their arresting power. If you fail to acknowledge Aereogramme now, there's a big black hole where your soul should be. [8/10]
The first words you hear on this exquisite album are "a potent mix of wonder and fear",
which is a good description of how Aerogramme sound. The Glaswegians' music is enormous and epic, but with spiky edges and an intangible sense of creeping dread: the musical equivalent of gazing at a beautiful snowscape, knowing that any second, an avalanche could fall. Everything has been as lovingly crafted as a child's snowman, from the military drumming and glorious use of strings, choirs and pianos, to Craig B's stunning, heartfelt vocals.
There are elements of everything from Radiohead to Sigur Rós and even the shimmering beauty of the Cocteau Twins, yet their sharp songwriting conjures up Snow Patrol with less obvious strokes. However, they don't lack killer hooks. Barriers and A Life Worth Living suggest Aereogramme should be filling stadiums, too. [4/5]
Drowned In Sound
I'll begin this review with a little honesty: Ive been sat facing my computer screen for around half an hour, digitally pencilling and scratching out lines for an introduction to Aereogramme's fourth full-length album, My Heart Has A Wish That You Would Not Go. I've tried many different methods: punchy one-liners strewn with no structure, elegant passages littered with poetic terminology, even a dick joke. But as I find myself nearing a dozen restarts I begin to think that maybe honesty is the best policy. Surely it's better to write from the heart than to cover up moments of uncertainty and creative struggle with fallacious clarity?
It's nothing less than Aereogramme deserve, as the release in question is one of the most defining, yet joyfully free-spirited, albums you will hear all year. Yes, musically the songs housed in this ten-track collection jut out at a near-right angle to the band's earlier material, but even without the usual PR fanfare and proclamation of a band stating they have reached their creative peak and created a piece of work that captures them at their best, you feel they have done just that.
At which point its probably a good idea to explain what the album actually sounds like. Those expecting anything resembling the post-metal wall-of-soundscapes of old may be found wanting as on My Heart Has A Wish..., velocity and intensity wise, Aereogramme have shifted several gears down, with only one track featuring a distorted guitar and front man Craigs vocals staying several light years away from anything resembling a throaty scream.
However, whilst this album may not be as visceral as earlier efforts, it is no less epic. A switch from stepping on a distortion pedal to segueing in a string section to compliment the build-up of songs is a welcome change and a perfect accompaniment to the note-perfect lulls that now form the structure of Aereogrammes sound.
Yet defining their sound in relation to that of others is no less of a problem. Comparisons to previous tour-mates ISIS are now worthless rather than half-arsed, with references to Anathallo's celebratory hymns mulled over in Kayo Dot's jet-black mausoleum being closer to the mark in relation to tracks 'Living Backwards' and (personal) album highlight 'The Running Man'.
Whether the bands progression from cranium-polishing doom-metal dirges to heart-swelling anthems is a product of evolution or of a will for a sudden left turn is irrelevant. Call me naive, or purely a lazy journalist without a central idea, but sometimes its nice to appreciate something purely for what it is. Here, Aereogramme have created something more than deserving of all the praise lavished upon it. [9/10]
A new direction for Aereogramme, My Heart Has A Wish... is beautiful and pulsating with excellence. Strings, piano, and clean guitar take a prominent role on the album, and it makes a fresh, new sound.
Something tells me that this is not the album Aereogramme had in their minds when they went into the recording studio. Something had to give. Singer Craig B. had a terrible throat infection, affecting his voice in the same manner as more popular singer M. Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold. His ability to put on a raspy tinge and take the band into a world of Isis-like post-metal disappeared, and he was left with his equally apt clean vocals. The instrumental end of Aereogramme needed to accommodate to Craigs new cripple, so instead of toning things down and making their music quieter and simpler, they made it more complex and gave it a brand new voice. Yes, Aereogramme is back with their first full-length in 4 years, but it is something brand new and completely unexpected.
After Sleep and Release, Aereogramme took to touring and various small recordings, such as a split with Isis and a short EP called Seclusion. Seclusion saw a very modern rock sound while the split EP with Isis saw the band playing with longer song lengths. My Heart Has a Wish is neither of those nor is it a combination of the two. The songs are standard length, averaging between 4 and 6 minutes. This album rarely sees guitars with full distortion and it utilizes brand new instruments to create their melodies at times, most noticeably a string section and piano. This album is not edgy at all, it feels very cohesive and meticulous to detail, and it comes across as an extremely beautiful album. The new sound doesnt sound new, it sounds as though the band has always done it and theyve refined their formula to the point of perfection. The production on this album is flawless, everything is crystal clear and even in the albums busiest moments, and everything can be heard at just the right level. Dynamic effects on this album, although the album never reaches Aereogrammes old heaviness, are better than ever. Aereogramme has found a new low in dynamic level, and theyve found their high in adding more instruments and more melodic activity rather than grunge-esque riffs.
Conscious Life for Coma Boy represents a great summary of the albums sound. It begins with delay guitar and some great falsetto from Craig. The album immediately shows that something new is here, through the chord progression, the style of Craigs singing, and the instrumentation. The strings, as on the entire album, add tons of effect and drive the band through dynamic change after change. Everything presented on Conscious Life for Coma Boy is to be expanded upon throughout the album, and it serves as a fantastic album opener in more ways than one. Piano, synth, and a great French horn section make their main appearance on Trenches. The chords laid out by the French horns, played with incredible musicality; make an inspiring soundtrack to any movie, and the added regality from the toll of the bells keep a knot in your stomach even in the quietest of moments on the album. As the song progresses, more instruments add in, with the piano playing a more prominent part throughout. Nightmares give the strings their full feature, with an epic yet simple riff that sounds all too familiar, mixed with other pizzicato strings behind it. The pizzicato adds tons of effect. Just before Aereogramme may have taken the song to a much heavier riff, the song cuts out, making it one of the most subtle on the album and beautiful.
My Heart Has a Wish That You Would Not Go presents all kinds of new sounds from Aereogramme, and some thing make a return in more subtle ways. The electronica keyboard style finds itself lending atmospheric effect on The Running Man. The pounding, simple riffs that revolved around downbeats and heavy bass drum kicks are toned down, but still present, more noticeably on Living Backwards. Vocalist Craig B. adapted to his injury almost instinctively, he may be a better singer because of it. His voice, which flies high in the range of Thom Yorke and Matt Bellamy, delicately falls in the mix of any instrumentation, never overpowering anything but always prominent and grabbing. His lyrics are just as great as his voice, with his melodies accenting the high points of his words. Despite how great the musicianship the album is, what makes the album so fantastic is the precision of the production on the album. Everything on the album was meant to happen; nothing is tentative. The only true flaw to the album is that the building technique of the band gets a bit tiring, because Aereogramme never lets anything sit and settle in. Everything is looking ahead to somewhere else, but nothing stays long enough.
Bands often face high expectations after putting such a long time between full length albums, and very few bands meet the expectations. Aereogramme is one of the few who met the expectations, through changing their sound and making a more thoroughly enjoyable product with extreme precision and beauty. [4.5/5]
Never the most predictable of bands, it was always going to be interesting to see what Aereogramme would pull out of the hat for their third full-length. Based on the darkly eclectic mini-album Seclusion or the recent collaboration with Isis, one might have expected a heavier, more experimental offering than 03s Sleep And Release, but instead the Scots have ditched the metal flirtations altogether and produced their most cohesive and, dare we say, accessible work to date. So, the burning question: is it any good? The answer: yes, yes it is.
A concept album in the loosest sense of the term, every song was composed with a specific film or soundtrack in mind. Though the reference points are not always easy to spot, the band have done a bang-up job of creating a record with a truly cinematic feel. Under their expert directorship, every note, vocal line and nuance arrives steeped in atmosphere and crackling with emotion, whether it be hope, despair, wide-eyed wonderment or pant-wetting trepidation. Trenches, with its mournful trumpet intro and militaristic flourishes, captures the mood of a black-and-white war epic, while the icy strings of Nightmares could provide the score to some tense supernatural chiller. Further use of strings, piano and keyboard serve to flesh out the sound, and a superbly crisp production job (achieved with assistance from studio engineer / fifth member Martin Doherty) brings the band one step closer to their goal.
Craig Bs decision to pack in the screaming may be a cause for concern for some diehard fans. After all, it was Aereogrammes undeniably mastery of the quiet / loud dynamic that led many to fall in love with their music in the first place. But My Heart Has A Wish does not suffer from this lack of aggression, and the band succeed in getting their point across without resorting to everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. Sceptics take note: this doesnt mean they have embraced banality and devolved into a wishy-washy indie band. On the contrary, these songs are bold, graceful and exhilarating the work of a band at the peak of their creative powers. Besides the moodswings of old are still present and correct; witness the joyous, string-soaked effervescence of Barriers give way to the heartbreakingly forlorn Exits. And for all this talk of change, it remains, at heart, an Aereogramme record. Despite an average length of four-and-a-half minutes, every song feels like an epic, while Craig Bs fragile vocals are as hauntingly beautiful as ever.
So, where do Aereogramme go from here? This could conceivably be the record that elevates them from beardy cult heroes to Celtic rock gods. Certainly songs like Conscious Life For Coma Boy and Barriers deserve a place in the upper reaches of the charts. Then again, it could follow in the footsteps of its predecessors and only touch the hearts of the enlightened few. But whatever the case, the band can hold their heads up high, safe in the knowledge that they have exceeded themselves once again. [9/10]
"NO CRAPPY press release has ever made me want to listen to a band. Its all smoke and mirrors," says Aereogramme MySpace profile. And its true that in spite of releasing three tremendous albums to date, press adulation eludes this cryptic Glaswegian quartet. Being an Aereogramme devotee is like being in a secret society and with the likes of Isis, Trail Of Dead and Biffy Clyro whose career Aereogramme launched via their label Babi-Yaga pledging allegiance too, its members are in great company.
So, back with original label Chemikal Underground, fourth album My Heart Has A wish is already being hailed on fansites as the best recorded work the four-piece has ever done. Named after a scrapped line in William H Battys text for his horror masterwork The Exorcist, My Heart is a beautifully tender and emotional concept album based around the quartets love of film and focused on songs that, as ever, bring darkness into light. From the conceit of each track as stand-alone compositions within a clutch of fake film scores to the Saul Bass-styled cover art, My Heart really could be the soundtrack to a life less ordinary.
But its more than that, as Aereogramme continue to evolve and confound sonically and intellectually, this self produced offering sounding like a million dollars compared to the £50 spent on the last album, the fantastic Seclusion. Euphoric rushes and string flourishes blend with bleak guitar lines, foreboding drum pulses and the fragile vocal bearing of Craig B to synopsise a new chapter in Aereogrammes script. And to think the whole tone could have altered had it been awarded the originally mooted title of Bog Read. You made a wise choice fellas. [KKKK]