It’s a good time to be gazing at your shoes. Well, at least if you like company. Echo Lake – London duo Thom Hill and vocalist Linda Jarvis – are not the first band this year to produce something cavernous, laden with fuzzy distortion and tending towards ethereal.
Wild Peace is an album to luxuriate in. It’s a mattress of an album. Actually, no. It’s not a mattress. It’s a pocket-sprung, 2000 thread Egyptian cotton sheeted, goose-down pillowed, Super King bed of an album that you want to lie, stretch out and build a little fort on.
And, for the first four songs, it’s damn near flawless. The swirling mass of the opening Further Down, all spectral voices and solemn keys; quiet and calm, yet somehow dangerous. You wouldn’t want to prod it with a stick lest it raised, struck and left you with severe tissue necrosis.
The glacial pace picks up for Another Day, where the Mo Tuckeresque simplicity of the beat pounds, the guitar vividly arcs, and once again you can’t make out a word of what Jarvis is singing. Then for Wild Peace you’re greeted with a jutting, wheezing organ and a buzz like someone has trapped the band under a glass, slid a sheet of cardboard underneath and shaken. Hard.
Best of all is Even The Blind. Their most recent single, it shimmers and sparkles, and the music forms the perfect crests for Jarvis’ measured voice to take huge great flying leaps off. Leaps that take her soaring close enough to you to make out a few recognisable words of English.
At this point, they really do have things sown up. At this point, the atmosphere has totally enveloped. You tumble forward with them happily, in a haze, and during that opening quartet (in the best way possible ) there is little sense of time passing. There’s a hypnotic dreaminess to proceedings, a thick-eared, dulling of the senses that is quite wonderful.
But, for whatever reason, it doesn’t quite extend through the second half. The instrumental Monday 5AM that bisects the album marks the point where the spell breaks. Not to the extent that anything that follows isn’t nice, but there’s something lacking from the following tracks that means you aren’t captured in that same bubble.
It isn’t until the closing Just Kids that they get back in it again. But let’s be fair, that is them getting back to it in some style, it’s immense enough that you can well imagine a confused looking Kevin Shields trotting back into the studio offering to remaster it.
So while it is ever-so-slightly patchy, it would be unkind to suggest that Wild Peace is anything other than an impressive debut. An album of smouldering beauty and epic construction. It’s just like most marriages: one half is better than the other.