These ten, sweetly crafted Canterbury songtales come from the Kentish four-piece at a time when musicians are once more feeling the urgent need to write proper songs, rather than fling half-baked ideas onto tape – as some of the bigger and more complacent names do – through a mix of laziness, venality and creative bankruptcy. The culprits know who they are, but Syd Arthur cannot be numbered among them.
Kicking off with ‘Coal Mine’, the band comes across as idiosyncratic as Tame Impala, the hiccuping signature signing you into an indie soundscape that’s not so much rock as entirely prog. Ideas spill over one another with the mixing desk getting a good working over, but no sooner has the song begun than its abrupt ending leaves you feeling as if you’ve been pickpocketed. So you listen in as ‘Plane Crash In Kansas’, burnished by a very nice blues chop, sucks you further into this strangely compelling record that soon becomes crammed with tamped snares, tom-toms and as much celestial noodling as you can manage.
On ‘Into Eternity’, classic key changes set the mood which sees the band happy to play for minutes on end, riffing expansively on their theme and curiously becoming more expressive without lyrics; as is the case with ‘Portal’, an abstract studio sweep with a heavy dash of punkish economy. It’s an instrumental that sees the foursome drift naturally into soundtrack territory, an area where perhaps in the future they may better ply their trade. Syd Arthur manage to shame their shamming peers because they know what they want, which is more than half the battle won when trying to win tired ears round to your point of view. There are moments like ‘Seraphim’ when the polish begins to fade, but by the final title track, ‘Apricity’ (which means ‘the warmth of the sun’), Syd Arthur have managed to hook you in, as the album slides away on a guitar plucked, perhaps, by the Summoner himself.
Apricity is out now via Harvest Records.