Monday, April 15, 2013

REVIEW: Father Sculptor - Faith & Violence EP

It takes an impressive bit of musical agility to sound both retro and fresh, but it is a skill that Father Sculptor has been flashing since they first started leaking tracks about 13 months ago.  One can break down the song components to '80s synth and guitar bands, The Smiths and others.  But in my view that is a bit of a 'can't see the forest for the trees' venture.  The important point is that this band displays an undeniable gift for dramatic, even cinematic pop songs, featuring authoritative basslines, thundering percussion, soaring tapestries of keys and guitars and one of the most compelling and emotive vocalists working the indie stages.  The songs are on a grand sonic scale, seemingly too big to be confined by walls, but still manage to convey intimacy.

Father Sculptor was founded in Glasgow (some or all of the members may be in Manchester or London now).  They released singles over the course of the spring and summer of 2012, and compiled them in the VI EP last fall.  Today, they are unleashing the Faith & Violence EP on their own label -- IX Hispana Records.  The record is comprised of five tracks that convincingly announce that this band deserves your attention.  It begins with the mid-tempo "Basilica", a memorable track that begins with grand musical statements and then transitions to a lovely but melancholy song.  The second track, Sault, is seemingly a brighter affair, featuring an upbeat, calypso rhythms and jangling guitar.  But the lyrics tell a different story, apparently questioning the worth of striving to attain love --

The melancholy aural palate and slower pace returns for the stately "The Swim".  Its lush soundscape envelopes a core of sadness.  A fine track in its own right, it serves as a foundation for the increased pace and intensity of the following two songs.

And then there is "Lowlands" which, in addition to likely being the best song on the EP, is featured in a video that wins our 2013 award for the most creative use of a sweetened breakfast cereal in a music video starring pretty women in underwear (and if you don't think that is a real award, you fail to understand both out artistic interest in pretty women in underwear and our long-time affection for breakfast).

"Swallowed in Dreams" is, for me, the perfect closing track for this record.  With its throbbing bass, ringing guitar and swooning vocals it seems to sum up what Father Sculptor is about.  There may be sadness and regret in the lyrics, but it all sounds quite triumphant.

Father Sculptor is Thomas David (vocals), Felix Bucklow (drums), Joseph Bucklow (guitars), Philip Hunter (bass), Matthew Mellor (keyboard and vocals).  Faith & Violence EP is available on vinyl (the limited edition version of the vinyl is already sold out) and digital download.  Hit the Bandcamp link below for details.

You may note that the band's releases are accompanied by excellent artwork, which is produced by drummer Felix Bucklow.

Bandcamp for Faith & Violence EP
IX Hispana Records
Bandcamp for prior EP ("VI")

No comments: