This New Zealand trio are clearly happy to dothings at their own speed, an approach that can beapplied to their music as well as their ability tofinish a record. And so it is that The Sound Insidefollows up their debut album, the electronica opusRoofers, by some eight years.
Granted, in that time the band have been busy withother things, not least Zane Lowe, known muchmore for his media exploits as a Radio 1 DJ than his work the otherside of the studio doors. You might assume that givenhis drive and enthusiasm for presenting that Lowewould be part of a hyperactively charged musicalapproach, but here he’s happy to join band mateHamish Clark and more recent recruit, singerAndy Lovegrove, in making some blissed-outmusic.
While Roofers dealt primarily with electronica TheSound Inside goes for a more earthy, acoustic sound,with emotionally concentrated vocals to boot. It’seasy-going for sure, but that doesn’t render itlightweight. Indeed the shafts of light thecontentedly upbeat vocals bring seem occasionally tobe masking something a little darker, a feeling hintedat in the lyrics of Settle Down, which murmurs “seemsthe more you suffer too, the more I settle down”, overa warm fretless bass sound.
Elsewhere Lowe’s carefree, ‘love life’ attitudeshines through and is shared by the band. TheOtherside searches with Lovegrove’s falsetto verse andfinds an anthemic, gospel-tinged chorus. Last Nighttaps into a Massive Attack vibe, a torch songwhose verse melody strongly resembles REM‘sEverybody Hurts. Meanwhile the tender A Place For Youinvites the subject to “just come down next tome”.
Just as the record seems about to go on too long itreigns in with a couple of twilight moments, thepenultimate track even bringing a sense of impendingoccasion with its “the time has come” lyrics. Not aheavyweight close, but once again a bit of depthbrought to what might in other hands be a throwawaycollection of tracks.
So a song-based indulgence, then, that drawslightly on soul, blues and lo-fi folk, not to mentionthe hip hop Lowe and Clark know and love. RecruitingLovegrove seems to have been something of amasterstroke for them though, and with him in the mixthe trio’s vocal collages bring something of thedesert heat suggested by the cover, and make for ahighly evocative record.