The Sound Of Arrows have taken their time to release this, their debut album, and it shows. What is immediately obvious is that there is no filler here - just brilliantly realised and moving electronic pop.
`Into The Clouds' builds up a sense of anticipation so that when the shimmering production kicks in it feels like a burst of sunshine. It's the perfect way to open the album as it sets the tone of widescreen production and of emotions taking flight.
`Wonders' is stunning, with synth sounds that send a shiver down the spine. It's dance music with purpose and grace.
`My Shadow' is mid-tempo and sounds instantly familiar. Warm synths sit alongside a wistful Italo-disco melody whilst lyrically it's bittersweet (particularly when the explanation for the song title is revealed at the 2:35 mark).
A remixed version of the bouncy single `Magic' is charming. Featuring a children's choir that manages to be moving rather than mawkish, this track looks back to a lost childhood (or the childhood we wished we'd had).
Things slow down for `Ruins Of Rome', which again features the children's choir to great effect. The retro-futurist electronica feels especially haunting for anyone old enough to recall the mid-80s.
`Longest Ever Dream' is the standout track of this amazing album - pulsating, melancholy and beautiful. Lyrically, it's got that late-ABBA (`Visitors' era) ambivalence where the past is suddenly being viewed from a new perspective. Musically, it has a strong Giorgio Moroder feel.
`Hurting All The Way' is a lovely, autotuned ballad. `Conquest' is pleasant but the least interesting thing here. `Nova' is the last `pop/dance' track & again pushes all the right happy/sad emotional buttons.
`There Is Still Hope' is where things get epic - this plays like the soundtrack to the most emotional moments of your life. The slow build up leads to a stunning, euphoric piece of music that seems to take you to another place.
'Lost City' is the instrumental Vangelis-like epilogue with uplifting orchestral electronica.
This is easily the best album I've heard all year - each track is exquisitely detailed and full of lovely moments that I want to play on repeat. It forces you to have a reaction, to feel something; don't be surprised to find yourself on the verge of tears without quite knowing why.