Review by Ciarán Steward
Syd Arthur will release their debut album ‘On An On’ on the 2nd of July and it will surely be met with much praise from their target audience. Mixing retro and modern, hi-fi and lo-fi, and even analogue and digital, the band are able to create a final product so intriguing that they wouldn’t have sounded out of place at Woodstock. By fusing laid back styles with unconventional time signatures, the band are able to create music that puts the listener at ease along with tracks that get the heart pumping and feet tapping.
Kicking off the album is ‘First Difference’, a song in 7/4 that immediately gets across the band's ideals with the crossover between folk and psychedelic music obvious. Pizzicato violin combines with electric guitar throughout the verses before the violin riff enters, smoothly moving the piece on. Similarities can be heard in this track to Stornoway, the same thing could be said for the following track ‘Edge Of The Earth’. The violin/guitar combination works brilliantly in establishing the bands signature sound and, when added to the vocals which are a sweeter version of Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, the front line of the band is very impressive.
Syd Arthur are able to incorporate various moods throughout the album, the edgy ‘Ode To The Summer’ followed by the saccharine sweet ‘Dorothy’, the latter featuring off-beat chords and falsetto alongside ingenious uses of technology to create a flowery yet deeply involving masterpiece. Some of the riffs used through the album are relatively similar, although this is key in establishing the purpose of the band and on ‘Truth Seeker’ the distorted guitar and and short dissonant riffs are a clever step away from more obvious progressions. The predominantly instrumental ‘Night Shaped Light’ is also very welcome as it shows off the musical prowess of the band, the echoed vocal parts also highlighting their technical ability.
Bringing the album to a close are the lively, fast-moving ‘Promise Me’, the acoustic delight ‘Black Wave’, the hypnotically ear-raising ‘Moving World, and finally the work of art that is ‘Paradise Lost’. At over eight minutes long, the closing track helps the album to culminate in an intense climax. Though it is probably too long to receive radio air time, if you are to listen to one track to find out what Syd Arthur are all about then it should definitely be this one. By incorporating most of the styles of the rest of the album, ‘Paradise Lost’ becomes almost like the closing credits to the album. The electric guitar is at its peak in this track and once again the combination of lo-fi and hi-fi is used effectively throughout a piece that could easily have become two or three tracks rather than the one full-frontal soundscape that is presented to the listener.
Already lined up to play events including the Lounge On The Farm and Green Man festivals, it looks like the band will have a productive summer ahead. They're attracting attention from such high profile places as The Guardian, Q, and Mojo amongst others, so keep an eye out on Syd Arthur as they look like they have found their niche market. With their unique approach to music, these lads have a bright future ahead of them.
Review by Ciarán Steward