Friday 2 August 2013

We Are The Storm - Wastelands

Album review by

The first album by Swedish band We Are The Storm was described by them as "austere but at the same time grand". Two years on and they've followed this up with a second, 'Wastelands', and we'd describe this as be much less austere but at the same time grand. Whether it be through confidence being bolstered after proving their worth with a successful debut, an enhanced view of just where they can take their sound, a better grade of production equipment/studio etc., or simply their natural growth in stature, there's something about 'Wastelands' that sounds brimming with confidence in their own abilities and arrangements that give the songs that extra touch of majesty.

It's evident from the start. 'Blue Moon' canters out of the speakers with extra swagger and ambition, however, this shouldn't be confused with arrogance, as We Are The Storm sound anything but arrogant, they simply sound more at ease, more relaxed and more fluid. The music here feels more natural. 'Morel Park' and 'Caves' temper the pace but the sound remains rich and warm; they're on a par with the celebrated alt-rock groups of North America. Even more tender songs like 'Them!' or 'Under The Cover Of Ground' could easily slip on to an Arcade Fire album, but as we learnt from single 'Monument' they can most definitely do grand and sweeping epics, and they really hit their stride mid-album, following this with the equally impressive 'The Wastelands', a song with a distinct American feel.

After these surging acts of grandeur we reach the comedown of 'Lake Tchad', a song that appears to be about a sad loss, yet it's still quite beautiful. The delicate piano and solemn strings are soon forgotten when We Are The Storm head into 'In These Grounds', the closest they come to a standard indie-rock song, but by standard we mean high standard, and those subtle background touches that are ever present on 'Wastelands' keep things a cut above; it's the attention to detail that helps this album triumph. Loss and even desolation return for 'The War', a signal that although this is a record that can sometimes seem happy on the surface, thought, empathy and pathos are never too far away. A further sign of the band's new found confidence is found on closer 'The Secret Is Still There', every bit the finale such an album deserves. We Are The Storm may have borrowed bits from here and there, but they haven't half done a good job of it.

We Are The Storm's website

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