It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that Errors’ mini-album New Relics is a makeshift recording to keep the Have Some Faith In Magic ball rolling but listeners shouldn’t be so hasty with their assumptions. Truth be told, Have Some Faith In Magic is still as fresh as the day it was released last March and the new release makes for a great companion. It is true that the new mini-album doesn’t find the band at their creative juice seeping best, and feels quite rudimentary at times, but what they do explore they exploit extremely well.
As an added bonus, each of the eight tracks are accompanied by a VHS video, created by various visual artists, ranging from recent film graduates to more established artists. Each artist was given a song and told to work from there and see what they came up with. For anyone just discovering the band now, despite all its experimentalism, this is actually an exceptionally accessible side to the band. New Relics may lack the instant allure of the previous albums, with the Glasgow trio adopting more of a chimerical tone, but the band steer clear of lingering in bland, ambiental territory.
As much of an oxymoron as the album title might sound, it’s more than opportune for an album which endeavours to resuscitate ’80s electronica, shaking things up with contemporary glo-fi rock. The affecting tone of opening track Engine Homes provides the perfect atmosphere setter with a moody, synth-laden sound steeped in ’80s apogees. This is followed by Ammaboa Glass, an Oriental instilled track, built on top of a sporadic, yet rousing, drum beat. The vocals here can’t really be considered singing, with the ungraspable, emulating vowels skipping over surging synthesizers and guitars that hark back to the likes of Talking Heads and Roxy Music. Although you’d be hard pressed to decipher any lyrical message, this experimental sound definitely keeps the listener on their toes despite failing to reach any kind of culmination.
The slow stomping title track Relics is much more compelling, replete with female vocals and creepy keys whilst the gallant Grangehaven stands out with its subtle, early ’80s Eurosynth influences that bring the ambient offerings on Have Some Faith In Magic to mind. On Hemlock Errors’ vocals sound as if the singer is in some far-away land, but that by no means detracts from the affectiveness of the track which bobs and sways like an Active Child/Cocteau Twins joint venture.
One thing’s for sure, New Relics is fraught with lethargic dark tones and basic chords. More often than not, that inkling of edginess the band had on previous outings is virtually non-existent. This is more than evident on the instrumental track Gros-Bron-Ange with obfuscated percussion bearing an uncanny resemblance to Four Tet, Gold Panda and the Minecraft videogame at the same time. What it lacks in edginess is more than made up for in singularity.
‘White Infinity’ is all about magnitude with Errors clearly proclaiming their love for Eighties college rock, mixing the likes of The Human League and The Radio Dept.. Although the vast majority of the album is very low-tempo the album’s closer Pegasus may start off with a calm and astral synth intro but it breathes some welcome life into Relics, with a relentlessly punchy house beat interjecting its grimacing tone. It’s just a shame this fresh air blows through the albums closing curtains.
As a whole the album sets a much slower tempo, with not a sight of the driving grooves found on the band’s previous releases. New Relics is definitely Errors’ attempt to break free from the restraints of critical conjecture. It’s certainly fresh but, lamentably, it fails to rival the progression seen on previous releases that grabbed the listener’s attention. Consequently, there’s a lot to appreciate about this mini-album, just not a lot to keep you coming back for more.