by Ben Adsett
Andrew Paley is somewhat of a pioneer; his post punk credentials are unquestionable and earned with The Static Age. He has now compiled and reimagined two years of solo work into an ambitious full length release. Sirens explores the song writing found in 2014’s debut EP Songs For Dorian Grey and the minimal untitled release that surfaced earlier this year.
This debut full length features songwriting as effective as it is determined. Despite the vast soundscapes being created there is still an intimate feel to every single moment. The entire record has the intimacy of a singer songwriter with a single instrument, but with a combination of instruments that group together to form expansive elements. There’s an intimacy in such a setting and a credit to Andrew Paley’s musicianship. Haunting and, at times, almost uncomfortable, these soundscapes are created sparsely with piano and build with layers of synths, guitars and drums. At times the effect is spine tingling and quite breathless.
It is within this contrast that this album becomes a fascinating listen; there is an almost half and half split of acoustic lead songs and building digital crescendos which, on paper, seems like a combination that can’t possibly work. In fact this is a release that flows effortlessly with the emotion of Morrissey combined with the digital heartache of Boards of Canada. Maybe it is the emotive feeling that leads this release from track to into track and moment to moment.
The closest similarity/equivalent to this record is the difference between Bright Eye’s Digital Ash In A Digital Urn and I’m Wide Awake it’s Morning, but it’s both of these releases combined into one release that works perfectly as a single piece of music. On every listen of Sirens the combination of musical styles, which are almost oxymoronic, seem to create an even more impressive flow.
This ebb and flow created between analogue and digital sound is held together every step of the way with a lyrical style which is open, emotive and at times simply beautiful. There are some incredible turns of phrase within this release projected through Paley’s emotive vocal performance. It shows a maturity and honesty to Paley’s writing; he is clearly as influential on your ears in his writing as he is with his musicianship. The subjects covered are broad and relatable with every track leaving the listener feeling subtly positive.
Sirens if full of heart wrenching moments, where vocals crack with emotion, but there are also points where even at its darkest moments there are glints of hope. It’s an incredible example of a post punk and sure to make for an equally as powerful live experience.
Sirens is out November 18th, via Paper + Plastick (US) and Make My Day Records (EU).