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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars why why why has no one heard of these guys?, 1 Sep 2003
This review is from: Sway (Audio CD)
i must confess i bought this album entirely on a whim, after seeing it in a record shop in las vegas. reading the quote from the sunday times on the cd case, which described the music as a cross between oasis, radiohead and the verve (three of my favourite bands) i could hardly resist. and i certainly wasn't disappointed. this is the album of the year so far, and the most accomplished debut record since 'definitely maybe'.
ironically, of all the bands the quote mentioned, the one it forgot was doves. whilst there are undoubtedly a few oasis-like flourishes, specifically the guitar solo on 'sweet marie', and some sonic touches reminiscent of radiohead's 'kid a', the overall sound of the album is far more akin to the ambient guitar grooves produced by doves. which is no bad thing at all.
the album opens dreamily with the swirling 'are you there?'. blissful vocal melodies rise and fall over soothing keyboards and soft acoustic guitar. it's a curious opening, but a magical one all the same.
this leads into the soaring 'life and illusion' - a pounding tune to add a surge of electricity to the album after it's atmospheric beginnings. that's not to say the song isn't similarly ambient, every song on the album shares the same dream-like quality. one fantastic solo later and the song drops away to the opening chords of 'baby blue'.
baby blue is the sort of song that bands often use as filler material, think 'green eyes' on coldplay's 'a rush of blood to the head'. however, phaser manage to turn a song that might otherwise be average into something outstanding. the song shimmers with an effortless beauty, and continues the imperious quality of the album.
the title track follows, and is the first of two enormous anthems. melodically perfect, sung with real conviction and featuring glorious female backing vocals, it's one of 'those' songs.
'would you believe?' infuses a touch of darkness after the heavenly nature of 'sway'. with brilliant guitar work, fantastic bass and a killer chorus featuring backing vocals that recall the title track of doves' 'the last broadcast'.
northern soul is the mid-album instrumental, similar to treefingers on 'kid a' but, in my opinion, superior in its conception.
this leads into the wonderful 'can't get you out of my mind'. thankfully this bears no resemblance to the similarly titled kylie minogue track. instead it's a gentle ballad with a gloomy voice that explodes into a delightfully uplifting chorus. brilliant.
'sweet marie' follows, and is the song that oasis' 'stop crying your heart out' and coldplays' 'the scientist' wish they were. it's the second enormous anthem, with perfect verses and a chorus that scrapes the stars (as well as that oasis-esque solo). maybe the vocals are mixed slightly too quietly on the first chorus, but it's a small complaint with such an otherwise flawless track.
'gone away too long' recalls 'can't get you out of my mind' with its minor verse-major chorus style. it's a very tough choice between these two wonderful tracks, and a marvel that they both appear on the same record.
'tess' revisits the opening 'are you there?' but injects it with a sense of urgency as siayko skalsky sings "just give me something i can believe in". the first part of a haunting conclusion to the album.
postlude gracefully brings the album back down to earth. a piano instrumental that seems to touch upon various motifs from the rest of the album (so far i've spotted baby blue and gone away too long, but i'm sure there's more). a true wonder, and a fitting end to the record.
hopefully my descriptions will have encouraged you to listen to this album. it really is remarkable. if you have ears, they deserve to hear this.
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Sway by Phaser (Audio CD - 2003)
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