Silver Columns Yes, and Dance Review

Released 2010.  

BBC Review

An excellent electro-pop affair from a duo best known for their folk excursions.

Mike Diver 2010

Anonymity lifted after early emissions led bloggers to speculate that Silver Columns was Erasure in disguise (or even a reformed Bronski Beat), the pair of Adem Ilhan and Johnny Lynch (aka The Pictish Trail) must wonder why they painted themselves faceless in the first place. After all, it’s not that uncommon for artists involved in the folk scene to get together and craft an album of joyous electro-pop. Is it?

Erm…

So, it’d be fair to assume that Yes, and Dance – a couple of floor-filling flukes aside – most likely isn’t a great deal to write home about. Out of their comfort zones and into a world of high-energy beats and glossy synths, soaring vocals and arms-aloft euphoria – something isn’t going to compute, and the results will be a muddled jumble of disco detritus and second-hand constituents from middle-charting 80s club cuts best left forgotten. Right?

Wrong, actually. From the very first listen it’s patently apparent that this is no folly for the duo; this is not a project that’s been completed at a reckless pace, without the intention of giving it the exposure its creators would expect in their solo guises. The record feels complete, as full and as rewarding as anything issued by Hot Chip, the band Silver Columns have been most widely compared to. And it’s a warranted parallel, as these songs bleed emotion from the stillness between bleeps and buzzes, as heart-on-sleeve as Alexis Taylor’s crew but equally as likely to prompt heaving masses into united revelry. Think also: Delphic with the New Order elements turned down, or Finnish two-piece Villa Nah with a Scottish accent sporadically dropped into proceedings.

That the pair do sometimes lose their bearings is forgivable – It Is Still You can skipped once heard the first time, as repeated listens don’t improve what is a poor track – as when Yes, and Dance hits its heights, it’s quite the rush. Not that everything is aimed towards the listener at maximum propulsion, as the likes of To Wake You and Heart Murmurs operate on more subtle levels, but the impression left by Cavalier and Always On is both immediate and lasting.

All told, the greater surprise isn’t clear: that this superb set is the work of a totally unexpected collaboration, or that Silver Columns aren’t already charging up the charts. It’s a funny thing, this music business.

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