Monday, 15 April 2013

Echotape - Collective

Album review by jay@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk


Epic. In music this word has become almost as derided as Justin Bieber of late. Wrap a string sample around the chorus of a song and the lazy start to band words such as epic or anthemic around. Echotape reclaim these words in the context of which these descriptions are rightfully meant. This is no late nineties rehash, where post 'Be Here Now' strings swamped everything and every video was awash with windswept peaks and crimson sunsets. Echotape bring a sense of passion and urgency. Opener 'Cannot Stop' gently washes in with a crystal-clear, Thom Yorke-esque vocal and twinkling 'Achtung Baby' U2 motifs which step up to a drum and string led grand statement of intent. A pleading lyric repeated of "cannot stop loving you" swirling round in the maelstrom, then ebbing to a close with those bewitching strings. Follower 'Far From Heaven' maintains the sense of driving urgency. A more tempered track, but nonetheless rushes headlong into a huge chorus, running into a 'Bad'-era Edge like riff before opening up into another epic conclusion of stuttering drums and vital guitars. It finishes almost too abruptly, as if not to outstay its welcome or exhaust the fire, but it leaves you wanting a grander finale.

'Love Is Leaving' is a richer track, which benefits from a less frenetic pace, recalling touches of 'Bends' Radiohead and the overlooked Longview. The yearning lyrics reflected in the depth of music, the song is kept afloat with quite exquisite guitar, which leads the song to its questing end. Fourth track 'Unstable' doesn't grab as those preceding it did. It suffers from a sense of pedestrianism, all the elements are there, but Echotape's alchemy of making something shine doesn't work here. The production on the vocal is quite flat, and maybe the whole song is just not able to lift as a consequence. The stark piano on 'Puppet Show' and rich, strong vocal with "come back to me" lyrics mirroring the song’s grace, redresses 'Collective'. Here Echotape show a songwriting maturity, and sustain the song's warmth by not taking it up to some forced crescendo full of hordes of strings, but simply use the piano and voice to powerfully sublime effect. 'Hades' is the most U2 like, and why should that be a bad thing? When U2 get it right, they can move the masses, and 'Hades' may not yet be Echotape's 'Where The Streets Have No Name', but it is strong enough to be their 'Wild Horses'. A mid-paced but never dull track that bewitches and also recalls another overlooked band, The Hours.

A darker, deeper track, 'Hope Is Coming' finds the depths of a soul-searching night, but again Echotape show rich grasp of their craft and do'’t allow the song to wallow, just keeping its head above the murky waters. The final clutch of songs starts with 'Halfway Home'. Perhaps the freshest on the album with a Temper Trap sparkle and fresh dynamics, with a more electronic feel than previously heard here. As the song builds, 'Halfway Home' reveals itself to be one of the strongest on the album. Last track 'Angels Sent For Us' is the reward for the journey through 'Collective'. An initial soundscape, almost Sigur Ros in its dynamic, flowing into a Bunnymen-style groove which blends into a summation of all that has come before it and is deservedly only like itself, Echotape.







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