(Equal Vision Records, out Fri 18 Jan 2018)
This is not an album for a cynic. It is a long, flowing odyssey filled with occasional, almost methodical cathartic rage. It’s an instrumental album that must be trusted. Any doctrinaire may consider it an overlong backing track. But delving a little deeper reveals moving vibrance.
It’s been seven years since The End Of The Ocean last released an album but the skill with which they craft an album has only grown over time. Expect higher highs and lower lows on this ride through their latest effort -aire.
It is unclear what the title actually means, whether they intend to become millionaires or grow their fanbase in Zaire. Perhaps it hints at the leap of faith a slow, pondering instrumental album like this requires. That a listener may be required to bring something to the table. Something as simple as faith or an open mind.
The album flows from the quiet rage of Bravado to the thoughtful, contemplative shores of Redemption. The simple one-word titles read like the opposite of The Smiths back catalogue. Homesick and Forsaken may not punch the gut or jerk the tears but offer up canvases on which feelings of melancholy and closure are reached for. Instrumental albums are often difficult to pin down. Riffs can be described to the most minute detail in language so verbose that the album becomes a dense novel. There’s also the risk of attaching generalisations so flimsy and catch-all for fear of putting a foot wrong. It’s easy to analyse the lyrical content of, say, Love Me Do, but the plodding rhythm of Ascend as it blooms can only be fairly described by what it conjures up and the feelings it evokes.
-aire sounds like healing. Like the memories of arguments fading into the past. Like eyes closing and deep breaths. Every track revisits the feelings but never treads the same ground twice. There are no hits or singles, just raw catharsis as each track tries to put the previous behind, out of mind and move forward. Birthright rounds off the album like determined strides into an unknown future. Yet it also loops back to the opening track Endure, like a journey unfinished, like a tide that never stops.