As much as they have always been admired for their nostalgic, lovely sounds, there was a certain shyness about Epic45 which may have prevented them from transferring from indie cultdom to indie heroes. As good as it was, the first album from Ben Holton’s My Autumn Empire did little to change that situation but did much to satisfy his followers with its warped folk and sensitive songwriting. For the follow-up, he seems to have cast off any inhibitions and made the brightest, most colourful record he could possibly make.
Could a record be started in dreamier fashion than ‘Every New And Then, I Fall Apart’? An expansive production, an explosion of harmonies and jangly, rustic guitars. It features the lyrical motif of “Everything’s wrong and then nothing’s wrong”; a reflection of the song and the whole album’s air of “happy being sad”. As opening tracks go, it’s pretty much perfect. The equally superb ‘Help Me Out’ is reminiscent of the retro-futurist, summery arrangements of The Superimposers. Both songs embrace the joys of repetition but when what is repeated is so enjoyable there is no cause for alarm. The main highlight of ‘Sleeves’ is its wonderfully infectious instrumental parts which call to mind New Order, Stereolab and The Montgolfier Brothers all at once. Then continuing the virtually flawless trend, ‘Say It Again (I’ll Kill You)’ pushes all the right big production buttons whilst the finale ‘Sleep’ is the coolest, crispest lullaby you could wish to hear.
‘II’ is more than just a confident return for Holton. It is celebration of melody and harmony and this time Holton is not afraid to share it. With new Epic45 material on the way, it will be fascinating to hear which direction Holton and his musical partner, Rob Glover, will follow next.
The Superimposers, Stereolab, The High Llamas, The Montgolfier Brothers, Epic45