Saturday, 7 September 2013

Peace Arrow - ↑↓↑↓

Album review by

After the delights of Hear Hums, we are now given a new present to unwrap from Mitch Meyers in the form of Peace Arrow. Discordant strings lead into sweet and gentle sounds which evolve into a thing of wondrous beauty and we have stepped into 'Broken Bridge' the lead song of '↑↓↑↓' (pronounced 'Peace Arrow' or self-titled). Like Badly Drawn Boy dancing with Four Tet, Peace Arrow quickly entice with collection of fluttering sounds that almost don’t fit, but from the ether a magic is summoned and it all gels in the most bewitching fashion. Somewhere 'Broken Bridges' melts into 'Your Hands'. It has stronger feel to it due to the hushed yet rich vocals, that add a form, tying the song together. 'Your Hands' quietly crescendos with a simple yet enchanting guitar line and a growing sense of urgency from the strengthening beats. After the ethereal touches of the opening pairing, 'Missing' draws from those closing beats of 'Your Hands'. It has an initial clarity, vocals at the fore, then as if running through some sun-flecked jungle trail, 'Missing' swaddles you in, what feels like, a euphoric cacophony of far flung bird song. After the tempered rush of 'Missing', initially 'Doors' feels a little lost in the wash left over, but it then shakes itself free and grows into the brightest song so far. Meyers allows his voice to stand up here, adding to the sense of clarity. 'Doors' sounds akin to The Flaming Lips on MDMA, and walks in similar shoes as our own singular Windmill.

After the whirl that is 'Doors' everything rests a little. 'Running Away' luxuriates in languor, then it slowly stretches out and grows into a near endless trip where we hear of "trees already grown, on roads we are yet to go". This becomes the song’s mantra. Finally the trip ends, and we are told to "let’s go". Before you notice, you have spent ten minutes in 'Running Away's company and would happily stay there longer. Magical myriads of near oriental chimes welcome you into 'Believers'. It houses a deeper use of electronics, but not layering it with "false" noise, simply enhancing, until the song spills into a subtle glory. A wave washing on the shore, preceded by more animal sounds, and 'So' is with us. "I am so lucky to have the friends that I have" we are told, and tellingly, 'So' has the clearest vocal narrative of the album and touches of Connor Oberst in its near-confessional style, but never a pastiche.

With an almost pop melodic undercurrent, played on what may be a mandolin, 'Turn Back' is a shining gem. Meyers indulges us again with his plaintive, but mesmerising voice and the song has many sweet flourishes, that all add to the whole rather than detracting. 'Turn Back' is wrapped in many layers, but here the sum is truly greater than the parts. Then on to the album's last deep trip, 'Directions'. It is simply a song to loose yourself into. Take it straight, altered, enhanced; regardless it is simply an indulgence that envelops you, and begs you to give your headspace up to it. Similarly to 'Turn Back', it has the sweetest melody pinning it all together. The songs clarion line, "life doesn't turn out the way you hoped it would. It’s OK", will easily become many's new tattoo. And so to the end, and 'Gems'. A perfect, sweet, uplifting, sharp end, to a delightful, enticing, rewarding, subtly  glorious album. What a wonderful trip.

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