It’s instructive when looking on retail sites tosee the ‘people who bought Brakes have also boughtthis’ list. The Long Blondes, The Magic Numbers,The Ordinary Boys, Damien Rice – elements ofall appear on this weird and wonderful record called The Beatific Visions, butit’s far from a contrived attempt to cover all bases.But then for a quartet with ex-members of BritishSea Power and Electric Soft Parade, perhapsit’s not too much of a surprise. Songwriting isclearly a pleasure for them, with quirky lyrics,decent tunes and no-frills production.
Between tracks it’s difficult to remember you�relistening to the same band. When a song like Porcupine& Pineapple? explodes from the speakers, spittinganti-war venom before exiting stage left in just 63seconds, punk sensibilities are to the fore. Contrastthat with the epic, lovelorn No Return, astring-drenched song that tugs at the heartstrings,pondering whether to leave or stay.
There’s a quaintness about much of the Brakessongwriting, occasionally leaning towards Belle &Sebastian. Recording the album in Nashville seemsto have lent the album an open-air feel. Margheritahas an easy going country charm, while MobileCommunication has a gentle resignation. That damnedreception’s gone again…
Ties to the homeland remain, with endearinglyEnglish lyrics that speak in Hold Me In The River of”follow my leader” and “skip to the lou”, while thebonkers Spring Chicken tries its luck with a fewdo-ci-dos.
Vocalist Eamon Hamilton seems to be a man ofseveral personas, and a tender love moment on Isabelshould never be taken for granted, as he’ll be morethan ready to punch out a spiky guitar riff andstrangled yelp of a vocal in the next minute. His songstructures are pleasingly random and err on the briefside, the whole album over in just under half anhour.
As No Return unwinds; however, you get the sensethe band is reveling in the timelessness of it all, asif they know there’s no time limit. It complements theshort, frenetic bursts extremely well.
The album is an intriguing mixture of moods andstyles, a piece of work that despite its brevity hasto be lived for a good many listens. Then the overallstructure becomes clearer, a kind of mini-conceptrecord that will amuse, puzzle, uplift and evenirritate in equal measure, displaying a refreshingalternative to conventional ideas.