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And So I Watch You From Afar All Hail Bright Futures Review

Album. Released 2013.  

BBC Review

A ridiculously optimistic and happy third album from the Belfast band.

Mike Haydock 2013

What are And So I Watch You From Afar up to? Haven’t they seen the news recently? The world’s gone wrong: massive global debt, massive unemployment and B*Witched are reforming. Misery. Everywhere.

Yet this, the Belfast band’s third album, is ridiculously optimistic and happy. It’s downright chirpy. It whisks you away to a beach party in the Caribbean where the sun’s shining and everyone’s laughing and dancing.

ASIWYFA’s mostly-instrumental rock has always been full of flair and bombast. Their success as a band is built on the understanding that instrumental rock can plod and get dull unless you propel it forward with powerful riffs, shape-shifting rhythms and catchy melodies. As a result, their music is never boring.

Previous album Gangs was built on shrill guitars and aggression. As it ducked and wove, it resembled prog rock. All Hail Bright Futures retains some of that template, but with a lighter touch and a broader sonic palette. The music is always on its toes, eager to spring off somewhere new.

On opener Eunoia, guitars ring out and echo like delicate pats on steel drums. On Like a Mouse – which must be an ironic title – riffs buzz and rattle onwards at such speed that they almost spin out of control.

This album is full of new ideas. There are cheeky marimba rhythms on The Stay Golden. On Ka Ba Ta Bo Da Ka, the lads layer up those spoken syllables with hand claps and a funky bass riff before winding up to a crisp crescendo – it’s like Vampire Weekend delivered with menace.

There’s a xylophone on the title track, and whoops and cheers are littered throughout the album. The cry goes up on Big Thinks Do Remarkable: “The sun, the sun, the sun… is in our eyes!”

The sun is shining, the party’s started. ASIWYFA sound like they’re having fun shaping and performing this music, and you’ll want to be part of it. Oh they’ve been watching the news alright, and they’ve stuck two fingers up at it. We should all be doing the same.

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