Daniel Land & The Modern Painters - The Space Between Us

The Space Between Us is essential listening for any foot watcher and required listening for anyone who feels the need to hole up in a darkened room with a bottle of vodka and a few old photo albums

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The Space Between Us feels like an apt title for a Daniel Land album because it pays testament to what makes their sound so specialThe Modern Painters layer waves of guitars (and on this album more besides) on top of each other and somehow manage to make something quite complex sound simple and direct. They fish in the same sonic pool that bands such as Keane and Coldplay filter the surface of but Land and friends head for deeper, slightly darker waters. The result is something quite deep, emotional and highly rewarding. Where Keane and Coldplay repeat phrases to a brain-numbing and maddening fault; which makes them almost painful to listen to after a short while, Land and Co build their songs up into complex structures but always with a clear, distinct line at their heart.  These songs, these hunks of stone can be returned to again and again, polishing their shine with each listen. It’s amazing how they can make so MUCH sound like so little. They’re deceptive, charming, haunting tunes and The Space Between Us is a truly gorgeous record.

Lyrically and vocally, Daniel Land has never sounded clearer, or more direct. His vocals are less distorted, although they still sound ethereal, and the words hint honestly and unflinchingly at the breakdown and consequences of a crumbling relationship, (The title of the closing track will give you a hint as to just how direct Land is being here.) However, musically, the band have never sounded better.

Opener Echo and Narcissus is a clear distillation of their sound. Fragments of melody intermingle with each other, offering your ears a dreamy, sonic landscape that’s not immediately catchy but intruigingly layered. DL&tMP songs aren’t anthems, they’re collections of thoughts and ideas woven together into a fabric that’s probably unfamiliar to anyone looking for a three minute pop song but still very accessible. Lovelife is the closest thing they’ve got to a radio hit and it sounds like something taken off an 80’s teen movie. I keep half expecting to find a young John Cusack standing outside my window holding a ghetto blaster every time I listen to it.  Starcrossed Butterfly Lovers is probably the one track that most newcomers will welcome into their hearts as it feels like an ode to The Cure and The Cocteau Twins. See also The Silver Medal, which sounds like the Pet Shop Boys on valium, and is worth the price of admission alone.

The Space Between Us is essential listening for any foot watcher and required listening for anyone who feels the need to hole up in a darkened room with a bottle of vodka and a few old photo albums. It’s an album fuelled by powerful emotions but while there’s enough loss, frustration and self pity on show for anyone looking for it, there’s more than enough beauty, charm and passion to counter against it. If the relationship that inspired this album was half as intense and powerful as the record itself then that must have been one heady affair.

The Space Between Us is a glorious album that just keeps on rewarding. Get a hold of this and enjoy a few more nights in why don’t you? Once you’re into it, you simply won’t want to let it go. Powerful stuff.