AC Berkheimer’s second long player finds the band in more reflective mood than their first, In A Series of Long Days, which did have its moments, but was always a worthy effort and one where bluster and bombast covered a lot of spare ground.
I feel on the whole this change in mood and presentation is a good thing: their talents are better spent channelling, (in tessellate almost), examinations of mood and behaviour over a crystalline backdrop, rather than throwing swathes of guitar sound at the listener. Indeed the bits that don’t really work for me are the bits when they sound like they’re trying to break a sweat, like the vocals or the beat on The M. Off You Go, by contrast is magnificent; a dreamy Liz Fraser-style vocal kicks things off to be joined by a counterpoint male vocal line, (deadpan as always) and the two combine brilliantly over a floating gauze of guitar and bubbling, rippling pedal effects.
The first track, Slow Down, is also a gem, though it’s a strange (if very confident) opening choice as it does take about 5 or 6 listens for you to appreciate its metronomic quality. The track taps away at you, and the guitar licks eventually seep into some cranny of your consciousness. The same can be said of ballad-like Gateshead or Come Along: and this quiet, dogged nature is one of the band’s main qualities. It’s noticeable elsewhere albeit in slightly different formats: beautiful elfin moments like Third Mountain and Lock Me Out are indeed beautiful, but don’t over-egg the pudding, going for simplicity in approach and softness in application rather than demanding your attention.
Funnily enough Berkheimer do sound more like MBV on this disc than their first: Tobago could be a B side from the Glider EP, and the late eighties find their way through on the C86-C87 of Five Times.
A top record, give it some time mind.