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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, what a difference in sound...
I bought Aqualung's follow up LP expecting it to be merely an extension or olive branch from what the debut gave us - melancholic, reflective and beautiful piano melodies. Of course, it delivers perfectly once again in this area of the album structure but there's certainly a difference in the sound of the two albums. 'Still Life' sounds like Aqualung from the core...
Published on 15 May 2004 by Stuart

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars mixed reaction from a huge Aqualung fan
I too was as excited as a chimp at feeding time when I learned of a prospective follow-up to Aqualung's powerful debut. After all, I had heard the new live track on the La Scala sessions and found it well worthy of a round of applause.
Although this new album is still characteristically Matt Hales, it isn't as distinctive as the first. Comparisons aside, 'Still Life'...
Published on 31 Oct 2003 by Amazon Customer


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, what a difference in sound..., 15 May 2004
By 
Stuart (Canford Heath, Dorset) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Still Life (Audio CD)
I bought Aqualung's follow up LP expecting it to be merely an extension or olive branch from what the debut gave us - melancholic, reflective and beautiful piano melodies. Of course, it delivers perfectly once again in this area of the album structure but there's certainly a difference in the sound of the two albums. 'Still Life' sounds like Aqualung from the core elements of the music, but its clear Matt Hales has decided to tinker with his winning formula by adding a bigger sound scope. More guitar elements, drums and other instrumentation help make this a much more diverse record than the first. I never thought they'd better the self titled debut, but they've quite possibly exceeded all expectations by delivering something fans of the old material will love whilst attracting a new legion with the progression they've made.
'Brighter Than Sunshine' is the perfect opener, a great pop song which has a great chorus and extemely uplifting. 'Left Behind' is perhaps the loudest part of the album and its here where you begin to see the diversity on offer. Matt sings the chorus here very passionately and its a song which develops to a mid-pace rock out. 'You Turn Me Around' and 'Easier To Lie' are next up, and in my view the best two tracks on the album. You Turn Me Around brings the sound back to a softer tone and features quite possibly the best lyrics on the enitre record. It's a beautiful, powerful piano led song and needs to be heard to be beleived. Easier To Lie however will lift you back up, it has a wonderful sweeping chorus and melody that just has the ability to make you feel good. '7 Keys' and 'Breaking My Heart Again' are the other stand out tracks and see the tone return once more to where Aqualung feel most at home. The rest of the songs are by no means average, but perhaps slightly lacking in quality to grab you like the others mentioned above.
I gave this 5 stars because its an album which will certainly have you coming back time and again. Also, in my opinion, it's a record in which Matt Hales has successfully moved Aqualung forward in their search for new ideas. It's their creativity and ability to use a range of different sounds successfully which makes this essential listening for music fans who like blissful, easy listening piano led melodies. It still sounds like much of their earlier stuff, but its much glossier, and full marks to them for not resting on their laurels and honing their sound. This ain't far off perfection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every bit as good as the first album, 12 Nov 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Still Life (Audio CD)
I think this is every bit as good as the first record, in fact I prefer it. Yes it's different in places, more upbeat at times, but the space is still there and the songs are still beautiful. I agree It doesn't slap you around the face the first time you play it quite like the first one did, but it does on the second play. I really wish some of the reviewers here had taken time to give this a good listen to instead of judging it on what I suspect was a quick listen (probably in order to get their reviews on here asap).
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 13 Trick Horse, 27 Nov 2003
This review is from: Still Life (Audio CD)
Second album time for Matt Hales, and it's time for him to prove he's not just a one trick horse. "Strange and Beautiful" was both strange and beautiful, but the rest of his self-titled debut was ok at best; although on occasion it reached the brilliant intimacy of the single, most of it felt distinctly half-baked.
So, has he managed it? Brighter Than Sunshine kicks things off nicely, and the lingering doubt that this will just be another Volkswagon Advert will dissipate as soon as "Left Behind", easily a match for anything Coldplay have done, kicks in. It seems Hales has discovered the wonders of the recording studio; as well as a lusher accompaniment of strings to his piano, strange and often compelling sounds litter the album. But it is far from overproduced- the man knows where to draw the line, and everything melts together perfectly. "Another Little Hole" and "Take Me Home" are brilliantly numb break-up pieces; Hales shatters his voice at the beginning of "Breaking My Heart Again" for almost uncomfortably intimate effect. And what is that sound at the beginning of "7 Keys"? It sounds like a wave breaking gently against an electronic beach, or the world's friendliest TV snow. Either way, it's a fitting opening for a defiantly cheery song.
Matt Hales is both a musical talent and a master at break up albums. It's time he's recognised as such.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect by any means, but a sound album, 9 Nov 2003
By 
J. Burlace "Jay" (South London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Still Life (Audio CD)
I bought this CD on the strength of "Brighter Than Sunshine" which is a fantastic opener to a thought-provoking CD. Matt Hales is clearly a talent to be reckoned with as far as writing heartfelt, emotional tracks is concerned, although a few struck me as a bit durgy. Standout tracks for me are "Easier To Lie", "Another Little Hole" and "Left Behind". Unfortunately, the album finishes on a bit of a sour note for me (hence the four stars), but is still a sound purchase, and great for a cosy night in.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful, 30 Oct 2003
By 
This review is from: Still Life (Audio CD)
I liked the first album but found it to be quite varied. It has some moments of greatness and some disapointing songs at the same time.
Still life seems to be a more complete album and has some beautful songs. The arrangements seem to have taken a step up this time and his songwriting skills are as good as before.
If you liked the last one you should like this one. If you didn't like the last one then give this a try, it's more complete and probably more accessible as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars still beautiful, 30 Oct 2003
This review is from: Still Life (Audio CD)
A perfect second album, different enough to remain interesting with more upbeat songs like 7 keys and and still beautiful enough to be able to recognise the beautiful piano skills and lyrics of matt hales. With a cheerful song to welcome you in and a peaceful quiet song to send you to sleep feeling at peace and wishing you could write as beautifully as matt it has a variety of songs for a variety of feelings. Defines Perfect
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look Drew! It's me!, 28 Oct 2003
This review is from: Still Life (Audio CD)
Aqualung is, and will continue to be a fantastic songwriter.
He create sublime and enchanting piano riffs, polished off with his distant singing melodies.
Whether you like this album all depends on wether you get bored with this sort of music. I you only like your music to give you a good beat, then forget it, this is what I would call a musicians musician. Technically its fabulous.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hales is the chief..., 4 Nov 2003
This review is from: Still Life (Audio CD)
I bought this Aqualung album on the strength of the fantastic single 'Brighter than Sunshine' which, on initial hearing seems the stand-out track. Yet there's much to admire elsewhere. Matt Hales occupies a strange middle ground between The Beatles and Radiohead and, while he sometimes falls short of both, he's clearly a songwriter of talent and promise. Don't let the Radiohead reference put you off, there's a very evident pop sensibility at play on every track.
Like all the best heartbreak albums (see Beck's Sea Change, for example), it gets progressively sombre, but it's a likeable pop gem by any standards.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just as good as the first one!, 31 Oct 2003
This review is from: Still Life (Audio CD)
I only received 'Still Life' this morning and have already played it 4 times!! I loved his debut album - in it's low-key, melancholy way...but this is totally different style. It seems that Matt has cheered up somewhat - and his music reflects this! 'Brighter than sunshine' is a totally classic love song, and although nothing quite tops this track on the rest of the album, it is still full of warm, happy melodies and thought provoking lyrics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love it, 16 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Still Life (Audio CD)
Awesome cd. I Absolutely love the first track brighter than sunshine really lovely tune and a refreshing and different album!
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