Some record labels seem to have an aura about them like Factory and 4AD did back in the 80’s. Former Cocteau Twins members Simon Raymonde and Robin Guthrie’s company Bella Union seems to be acquiring this mantle too with such artists as Lanterns On The Lake, Explosions In The Sky and Money. I had been talking up this Manchester band for some time now so their debut album ‘Shadow Of Heaven‘ had high expectations indeed. Well folks they didn’t disappoint me at all with album. In fact they could be the next big influential artist to hail this proud musical northern city.
There’s no better way to start this album than with the track that first woke me up to this band ‘So Long (God Is Dead)‘, such an atmospheric song that meanders along in such a way it captivates your every sense. With is wispy vocals that evoke memories of the label owners former band. With ‘Who’s Going To Love You Now‘, we hear some big beaty drums from Billy Bryon. Add to it a jagged guitar you could easily be fooled this was a long-lost Arcade Fire track. Subtle production ensues on ‘Bluebell Fields‘, and such a delicate guitar back a swirling keyboard just entices you further in. When Jamie Lee repeatedly sings “…You are mine” at the end of the song it signifies they’ve just done that.
The ballad ‘Goodnight London‘ is just a cool echoing grand piano and the clearest vocals to be found on the album. But for this sparseness it does hit out hard at you. Well normal service soon resumes with Scott Beaman’s bass led ‘Letter To Yesterday‘ it’s make up and lyrics “all this blood that runs in my veins” seem to suggest they have Joy Division genes running through them. ‘Hold Me Forever‘ highlights the frailty of the vocals but at the same time the power they exert. Just add choral backing vocals and those pristine guitar notes for good measure.
This album is built on soundscapes and ‘Cold Water‘ really epitomised this to great effect, a real monster that builds up as it progresses. ‘The Cruelty Of Godliness‘ is another ballad but this time it’s built around Charlie Cocksedge’s excellent guitar play. The title track ‘The Shadow Of Heaven‘ is sumptuous as you come to expect. It’s possibly the most complete song on here, so watch out Vinni Reilly these upstarts are after your mantle. The grand piano returns for the finale ‘Black‘, a dark brooding ballad that you can almost feel the pain it transmits through your speakers. I’ve mentioned some iconic artists in this review but they can over time join them at the top table if this album is anything to go by. 10/10 Buy It right now if you will.
Thanks for the live video uploaders.