After the protracted release of their second album – last year’s excellent ‘Three Fact Fader’ – there’s a particularly swift turnaround for album number three from Engineers. This is more suprising given that the band have shed one member and gained two others in the form of shoegaze specialists Ulrich Schnauss and Daniel Land (from Daniel Land and The Modern Painters).
The record begins very promisingly. Opening track ‘What It’s Worth’ is pitched perfectly against the backdrop of glistening guitars and smooth landscapes, with vocals which caress and comfort the listener. This is dreampop at its most dreamy. Similarly impressive – although noticeably darker and more aggressive in tone – is ‘Subtober’. Thereafter, though, an amorphous blend of soft focus arrangements follow; with several songs having little in the way of a hook. For example, ‘There Will Be Time’ is too gentle and unassuming and ‘To An Evergreen’ is awash with insubstantial synths. The accompanying instrumental version of the album, therefore, is superfluous for all but the die-hards.
It would be difficult and – given the personnel changes – possibly unfair to expect Engineers to surpass their last album but this certainly seems to be a step backwards for the group. Perhaps on their next record the new members will have had more time to integrate themselves with one of shoegaze’s finest acts but for now they sound like one of a bunch of “nu-gaze” hopefuls.
Daniel Land And The Modern Painters, Ulrich Schnauss