What a pleasant surprise ’And After That The Dark…’ turned out to be. This Welsh quintet have been around for about three years and their debut is such an intriguing textured record that they’re surely set for something special.
Stylistically diverse, The Echo and The Always defy classification as they flirt with indie, rock, pop, folk and even mariachi, yet manage to find their own signature sound within the melting pot. The confident atmospheric intro and delicate piano melody of opener ‘History of Trees’ bring stark contrast to the poppy beats and pulsating bass underpinning the layers of horns, synths and guitars beneath Laura Hancock’s sublime voice. First single ‘Go Easy’ is rockier but no less rich and shows that they know how to deliver a hook.
Their intelligently constructed songs manage to avoid sounding the same or following a formula; ‘How to Burn a Bridge’ being emotionally intense, while ‘Deep Breath’ seems like a straight indie rocker, until the trumpets add dimension and a cool keyboard interlude finishes off in style. ‘Lustre’ has an air of grandeur á la Smashing Pumpkins and ‘Colours’ is bright and poppy, as is ‘Closed’, which also boasts a superb finale of mariachi-style trumpet over acoustic flourishes; did not see that coming!
However, they are at their best when exploring deeper emotions, as on the defiant ballad ‘Capable Of’, with its superb vocal and lovely trumpet, or on standout track ‘Antiquity’. There is a severity to the guitar and a banging bass line to this wonderfully arranged song that takes some unexpected turns; the vocal once again outstanding.
Aside from the familiar air to some of the melodies, this is a pretty individual sounding record and I’m sure we´ll hear a lot more from these guys very soon. Great stuff!
‘And After That The Dark…’ by The Echo and The Always is out now on Jealous Lovers.