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archive calltoarmsandangels
Artist: Archive
Title: Call To Arms And Angels
Genre: A World Of Its Own
Release Date: 29th April 2022
Label: Pias


Album Review

Anyone managing a 12th studio album deserves something of a nod, but when you have a history of line-up changes and turbulence (I believe the polite term for this is “a collective”) and eclectic, loose-limbed approach to anything as tedious as genre or trend, it is nothing short of miraculous. ARCHIVE, then, are one such rare creature. They’ve navigated everything from trip-hop and prog, post-rock and electronica, to the closest thing they get to a signature style, a kind of epic, sprawling monster that nestles itself somewhere between heaven and a hell (see classic song ‘Lights’ for the best example of this).

And there’s one such song here of course, on new album ‘Call To Arms And Angels’ - ‘Daytime Coma’ clocking in at over fourteen minutes, and not a second wasted. It’s a beautiful, haunting, and frankly terrifying look back over the last two years, that somehow manages to squeeze every post-plague emotion possible into its claustrophobic fragility. And new single ‘Shouting Within’ offers not only a vocal contrast (Holly Martin, as opposed to the latter’s Dave Pen) but is a more concise summary of the frustrations and confusions of recent times. Could any line be more fitting than “the damage is done, it’s not making sense to me”, and the yearning, soaring conclusion will have anyone but the soulless wet-eyed and gasping. It’s a phenomenal song.

A double album suits ARCHIVE well. Although musically dissimilar, they share this need for space and width with CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX, another collective residing in some out-there habitat all of their own. ‘Surrounded By Ghosts’ opens album number one, spaciously oozing a dreamy melancholy, before buzzing guitars and a psychedelic wonkiness come swaggering into view on ‘Mr Daisy’. There’s a creeping paranoia seeping through the excellent ‘Fear There And Everywhere’, and closer ‘Every Single Day’ manages to neatly package the feeling of repetition and pointlessness into a bizarre nursery rhyme with a ridiculously singalong chorus that belies the true horror at its core. ARCHIVE do this well - even their more light-hearted moments often mask a depth and understanding that is disarming.

The second album wastes no time, tumbling breathlessly into the disjointed ‘Freedom’, which ends up sounding like drug-gobbling-era THE BEATLES, and then slinking off into a sparse and bluesy, beautifully sung ‘All That I Have’. ‘Frying Paint’ is wonderfully odd, like wandering lost, upside down, in a half-remembered dream, and a piano guides and glides around the optimistically titled ‘Everything’s Alright’ making the tears come again, even if you’ve no idea why. And veering back into epic territory is ‘Gold’. There are so many ideas and threads all dancing in slow-motion around one another here, that it’s almost a relief the pace is so sedate - it’s poetic, hopeful, damning, part dream part nightmare, past and future, rolling and tumbling and gathering pace as it tries to unfold the vastness of its scope and ambition into something as limiting as a mere song. This, genuinely, is musical magic, and I doubt it will be bettered for a long time to come.

What’s on offer here is far more than just an album. When RADIOHEAD released ‘OK Computer’ and it felt like some whole new level of sound had been reached - ‘Call To Arms And Angels’ is in that league. It’s not in a genre, it has no place in an unfolding narrative. It stands absolutely unique at the very pinnacle of creativity, and thoughtful, intelligent introspection. There will not be a more important album this year.


Tracklist

CD1
01. Surrounded By Ghosts
02. Mr Daisy
03. Fear There And Everywhere
04. Numbers
05. Shouting Within
06. Daytime Coma
07. Head Heavy
08. Enemy
09. Every Single Day

CD2
01. Freedom
02. All That I Have
03. Frying Paint
04. We Are The Same
05. Alive
06. Everything’s Alright
07. The Crown
08. Gold


Line-up

Danny Griffiths - Electric guitar, bass, keyboards
Darius Keeler - Keyboards
Dave Pen - Vocals, guitar
Pollard Berrier - Vocals, guitar
Mary Q - Vocals
Steve Davis - Bass
Steve Harris - Guitar
Jonathan Noyce - Bass
Smiley - Drums
Holly Martin - Vocals


Website

archiveofficial.uk / https://www.facebook.com/ArchiveOfficial


Cover Picture

archive calltoarmsandangels


Rating

Music: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9 / 10




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