The backstory behind the course of an album can so often influence the sound. For The Rest’s third long player, they had to cope with the loss of their long-time producer to a heart attack and then the prospect of not being able to recover the master tapes. Happily, the latter situation reached a positive conclusion whilst they honoured their former producer and friend by recording ’SEESAW’ at his converted church studio. So what we have is a passionate collection of songs full of life affirming conviction.
It seems strange comparing a relatively unknown act with U2 but the ringing guitar work, rich production and passionate vocals on ‘Who Knows’ certainly support this comparison. ‘Hey! For Horses’, on the other hand, may be based on similarly grand arrangements but its approach finds a healthy middle ground between the bombast of Arcade Fire and the more considered material of The Helio Sequence.
The mix of hope and despair is perfectly captured in the title and the tune to ‘Laughing Yearning’. Admittedly, there are a few songs here which crumble under the weight of the kitchen sink approach: ‘John Huston’ and ‘Young And Innnocent’ undeniably contain heart but they would carry more weight with less layers of sound. A better showcase is the almost hymnal ‘The Lodger’ or ‘Could Be Sleeping’, where the singer delivers a beautiful falsetto across an intense but never OTT mix of thumping percussion and chiming guitars.
So overall, the more The Rest emphasise the human voice and melody over the production, the better they fare. What cannot be doubted though, is that ‘SEESAW’ is a very emotional record and the spirit of these musicians should be bottled and preserved forever.
The Arcade Fire, The Helio Sequence