Album Review: Post War Years – Galapagos

I must say, I was quite excited to clamp my ears on the sophomore release from Leamington-based future-poppers Post War Years.  For one thing, they played at my university’s Summer Party 2012, which got me tuned into their earlier work, and for another, recent single ‘All Eyes’ has been bouncing off the walls of my brain for the past month or so.  It’s the song that Galapagos announces itself with, and it’s easily the hugest – and best – thing on the album.  Slinky keyboard arpeggios drip all over glistening guitars in the noirish darkness, before a distorted vocal wail kicks off a cavernous drop into a stomping, post-punk rave.  It’s nothing which drastically pushes the musical envelope, but I dare you to defy the swag of that final, weaving refrain of “you have all the time in the world”.

With the gauntlet already thrown by its opener, it must be said that the rest of Galapagos does struggle to surpass such heights during the rest of its runtime.  There are certainly enough ideas and quirks fizzing around Post War Years‘ sonic template to ensure that boredom is never on the cards, but after the glittering coda of ‘God’ has faded away, one still isn’t quite sure just what kind of band these guys are striving to be.  They wear their influences well, with echoes of Animal Collective, MGMT, and occasionally shades of Wild Beasts audible in their DNA, but across these ten tracks, a distinctive identity for this particular group never fully emerges.

That’s not to say that this is entirely to Galapagos‘ detriment, given that it does boast a clutch of impressive tunes and textures.  ‘Glass House’ bounds off the back of some squelchy synths into a fun chorus, and ‘Growl’ features a crunchy, off-kilter guitar melody which adds a nice spice to the exultant tug of the song.  But by trying to incorporate such a wide range of elements into its make-up, the album never settles, instead darting in a number of disparate directions in search of a niche.  There are still signature elements in place on most offerings here (including those sumptuously glossy guitars and driving rhythms), but for the most part, the listener is left trying to keep up in such an ever-swirling landscape.

Galapagos is an album which is intriguing to examine, and it certainly provides enough colours and left-field choices in its runtime to keep listeners interested.  To their credit, their scatter-gun approach does work well from time to time, as on the giddy rush of ‘Volcano’ or the eighties thrum of ‘The Bell’.  However, perhaps in reflection of that (rather unnerving) album artwork, it’s also slightly confused, and perhaps emotionally muffled, just like the face of the figure staring out from the cover.  Having now seen the group live, I’ve seen the everyman charm and fun which goes into their performances, but it seems to me that some of this has become slightly lost in the translation to studio recording.  Galapagos is a solid listen, and will provide you with some good tunes to chew over, but Post War Years have yet to stake their own personal claim in the music realm.

6/10

“You have all the time in the world”

01/03/2013

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Posted on March 2, 2013, in The Music World and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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