And So I Watch You From Afar
4th May 2015 – Sargent House
01. Run Home
02. These Secret Kings I Know
04. Redesigned A Million Times
05. People Not Sleeping
06. Fucking Lifer
07. A Beacon, A Compass, An Anchor
08. Animal Ghosts
10. Tryer, You
Try to imagine the happiest that music has ever made you. Envisage that euphoric closing number at the finaldate of your favourite artist’s headline tour. Recall how good that one riff from their best album made your face contort into something unnatural and unrepeatable the first time you heard it.
Apparently Northern Irish quartet And So I Watch You From Afar have that feeling on tap somewhere; a hidden font of good feeling from which they drink – or maybe some kind of happy tree from which their instruments are made – because god damn, their music is so uplifting there must be something magical at play.
As with every ASIWYFA record to date, Heirs opens with an incredibly upbeat and infectious track. “Run Home” melds choral harmonies, head-nodding tempo and regal grandiosity. The guitars of Rory Friers and Niall Kennedy dance and duel throughout the frantic intro, with the band’s gang vocals belting out simple but memorable parts.
These vocals are more utilised than ever before. ASIWYFA used to be purely instrumental, but voices are used more than ever, even just as an instrument. The intro to “Wasps” features wordless singing, adding melody to the frenetic guitars and rhythmic percussion.
It’s nice to be able to hear the contribution of every instrument; Heirs presents with absolute clarity, and the slightly dark buzz of Jonathan Adger’s bass plays off against the bright guitars of Rory Friers and Niall Kennedy. Chris Wee’s drums are also far from small; angling around with the kind of snappiness you want in music that’s more buoyant than a life raft filled with helium. “Fucking Lifer” is a great example, dispensing with the vocals to focus on the quartet’s fantastic compositional chemistry.
If I had one criticism, it’s that this is essentially more of the same. And So I Watch You From Afar know what they’re good at, and execute it magnificently, but a few more risks would really push them above and beyond. There is absolutely no substitute if you want a dopamine boost directly from your speakers to your head, but for real staying power, album five needs to take steps into the unknown.
Yet triumphant they remain. Heirs whispers an encouraging word in your ear, pats you on the bum, and sends you off to school with a packet of Haribo hidden in your lunchbox to make your smile last the afternoon as well. Honestly, if they keep doing what they’re doing, I won’t be sad at all.