Album Review: Syd Arthur – Apricity

By on Tuesday, 29th November 2016 at 12:00 pm

Syd Arthur Apricity album cover‘Apricity’ is apparently an obsolete word that means ‘warmth of the sun’. A band such as Syd Arthur are one of the only groups who could so easily find a word such as this to describe their new album with such perfection. ‘Apricity’ is also the fourth album from the Canterbury foursome and is the perfect counter to the forthcoming winter. From the get-go of opener ‘Coal Mine’, it becomes clear that this is a band who isn’t messing around. The song begins with a riff that hauls you in but then falls away to a delicate offering of guitar, only to then be turned into a soulful number, with dressings of jazz and psychedelia.

With so much action happening from the start, you begin to understand ‘Apricity’ wasn’t made for you to simply listen to in the background, it demands your presence for the entire listen. With so much happening all of the time, it’s easy to get lost within and to let the music consume you: from the violin that sits atop the standard instrumentation, the licks of guitar that cut through and piano that thickens the mix, it’s a full time job trying to catch everything going on and it’s never been more fun to do so.

Next up is ‘Plane Crash In Kansas’. Although its name is not a particularly happy one, the soulful summer vibes are in abundance. The chorus follows the set melody we’re greeted with in the beginnng but it takes it into minor territory, showing that melody and melancholy can indeed go hand in hand. ’No Peace’ opts for the less direct approach by having no real memorable riff, letting the track flow on its own. An urgent downward-picking guitar gives a slight edge to the repetitive chorus, and the song finally leaves us with a crescendo of swirling violin that draws the chorus back in. When ‘Sun Rays’ hits, you’re met with a couple of bars of urgent drums greet the less-than-so melody that everything else follows with complete dedication. Certainly not done in the most exciting way, but the tune has a flow that just captures you.


Halfway point and longest cut ‘Into Eternity’ forgoes all the previous urgency or immediate atmosphere, instead letting everything build into a minor frenzy of searching guitar licks that move into an instrument-wide uniform melody. This methods is carried on until a leap into a guitar solo that doesn’t yearn so much for attention but to gracefully meet everything else around it. Not quite feeling as grandiose as it quite should, this outro could have a bit more attack to it to make the second half of the record arrive with more bite.

Nonetheless, the second half arrives and with it comes slightly more urgency. ‘Rebel Lands’ houses a mildly erratic rhythm section, while the more serene layers above use this to their advantage, occasionally meeting and surpassing it, but more or less using it to accentuate their gracefulness. It’s on ‘Seraphim’ where we’re finally given a chorus with some bite, leaving the verses to act as building blocks. The guitars once again bring the memorable melody, while the rhythm section goes for a more resolute pounding approach, sitting way below the higher sections of the musical spectrum. It’s the outro, however, where things get really interesting, falling away into a collapsing barrage of pounding drums and respectable but wantonly searing guitar.

Following this, ‘Portal’ lets the often masked electronic instrumentation take the front seat. The song truly approaches the psychedelic side of music with its falling sounds that appear from nowhere and the repetitive nature of everything else helping them along. Being the only instrumental number on the album, it does a supremely good job at holding your attention, never waning into boring or obsolete, instead going forward with aplomb and grace. Things get full-on weird with ‘Evolution’, another electronic-heavy track, experimentats with effects to create a soundscape that isn’t directly as pleasing as those that came before it, but it still manages to have an attraction of sorts.

Finale and title track, ‘Apricity’ brings things to a close with more immediate urgency, that is until it falls away just before the halfway mark. It’s here where it takes this chance to bring it all roaring back in exact repetition until it eventually runs its course and completely breaks off, leaving nothing but a shimmering melody. ‘Apricity’ the album is a listen that never feels like a chore. Syd Arthur truly are a band that bring both fun and intrigue to the music they create.


‘Apricity’, Syd Arthur’s newest album, is out now on Communion (UK) / Harvest Records (North America). You can catch up on Carrie’s interview with frontman Liam McGill back here. For much more on Syd Arthur on TGTF, follow this link.


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