After their magnificent and defining first album I have waited for this second release with excitement and trepidation in equal measure.
The Shortwave Set have definately moved on musically and production-wise but have certainly not sacrificed their unique sound which still lives at the heart of each and every track.
I was initially wrong-footed by Replica Sun Machine. I'ts slightly less "hurdy-gurdy" than "The Debt Collection" and has a distinct flavour of psychedelia about it. As I listen to it I keep visualising outdoor festivals, flowery dresses and relaxing on scorching hot sunny days while watching the clouds drift by. At times I'm very much reminded of the "The Mamas and the Papas"
Please don't judge this album too hastily, especially if you're a big fan of their first release, Replica Sun Machine is a definite step away from their previous sound. It may take a little time to get used to this new fuller sound but if you give it the time to mature you'll see it compliments the songs without becoming overbearing.
Each track delights equally and I'm only too happy to leave the whole album on repeat without getting tired of even one second of it. The more you listen the more beautiful it becomes and it's 100% destined to be the soundtrack to my summer .....plus I just discovered in July they're going to be performing in a cow-shed less than 1/4 mile from my front door
Life just keeps on getting better.
May I be so bold as to say "well done" and a big "thank you" to all involved ?
on 30 May 2008
I came to this with fresh ears, not having discovered their obviously well loved debut, which I am now buying on the strength of my huge enthusiasm for this sophomore effort. SS are off-kilter and gorgeous - it took me three or four listens for the music to begin to develop in my ears, but now it's taken hold of my head and my heart and won't let go. When I select this on my MP3 player, it lifts my whole day. No, it doesn't have the garage ethic of their debut (which is sounding very different but also excellent) but it's streets ahead of anything else coming out of the current UK indie scene. Overproduced? Hmm. Anyone listened to the recent crop of stuff coming out of the other producer-du-jour, Jacknife Lee. This is more about depth and development. Highlights include "Now Til 69" and... oh, dammit, the other 9 nine songs too.
on 18 May 2008
Apparently this album was finished by the band over a year ago, and then Danger Mouse contacted them to offer further production and...this is the result: Overproduced. WAY overproduced. There are some nice songs here, but the band is still essentially a fairly wonky outfit, and their often inane lyrics and flat vocals are unflatteringly highlighted by the crushingly dense production. None of the songs are allowed to breathe, and celebratory jams like Now til '69 simply don't work because it all sounds so calculated (and the joyous chorus of "it will never be quite the same again, no way!" is laughably flat, as if all the energy was drained from them at the exact moment the listener was supposed to feel exalted). The songs are mixed - similar to their previous album - but everything seems to be in the same key, so one flows into another with little variation. Based on this evidence I'd say The Shortwave Set have already made their musical statement, so you'd be better off with The Debt Collection.
on 19 May 2008
Not quite sure what to make of this. I saw this band supporting Goldfrapp and they have a detached quality about them - but a sort of studied detachment, rather like posing in an affected manner. I was generally unimpressed but kept watching since there was a germ of something there - the different instruments, some of the samples etc. They ruined it for me with a heavy-metal workout at the end - pathetic actually, it was as though that's what they really got off on, but had to do trendy sampling things to get noticed.
So here's the second album. Actually I quite like the first one and thought this would really hit me (Dangermose connection, "names" playing a part and so on). No such luck. It remains "of interest". I really think they need to concentrate on something they really believe in - and do it well. This retro style material is so very very much better done by The Real Tuesday Weld, I suggest they use their musical talents and find something fresh - if they have the creativity to do that. They really must decide if they are a novelty item, a wimpy pop band, or whatever. Oh, I can't be bothered with them anymore. Sorry. The end.
on 28 May 2008
I was so looking forward to this album after their captivating debut, and the feature in a recent edition of The Guardian review. Sadly I have to admit that it's a major let down. I was so excited to hear about the inclusion of John Cale , Van Dyke Parks and Danger Mouse in to the production melting pot, but what happened. The first album was so inventive, relying heavily on its charity shop vinyl samples yes,but for me thats what made its so charming.Danger Mouse is quickly becoming the producer of choice for many bands across the whole spectrum, and to be honest, I think his sound is becoming a little dull. His work with Gorillaz and The Good the Bad and the Queen was exceptional(not to mention the Grey Album, DM and Jemini, etc.)But the Shortwave Set should have stuck to what they do best. I can understand that it must have been an amazing prospect to work with such a dazzling cast of artists but sometimes its the songs that count...A producer does not make a good album.