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Amor de Dias - Streets of the Love of Days

  by Richard Lewis

published: 23 / 7 / 2011

Amor de Dias - Streets of the Love of Days
Label: Porcini Music
Format: CD


Perfectly understated gentle chamber pop on debut album from Amor de Dias, the new band of Alasdair MacLean of the Clientele and Pipas' Lupe Nunez-Fernandez

Released in the US by superb independent label Merge, Amor De Dias’ label mates include Lambchop and Spoon, who share the same gentle chamber pop air as the present duo. Consisting of Alasdair MacLean of the Clientele and Lupe Nunez-Fernandez of lo-fi pop duo Pipas, 'Street of the Love of Days' was completed over a three year stretch from 2008-11. With vocal duties split equally between the two, in English and Spanish, the pair sound fully realized on their debut outing. Recorded ‘in secret’ as the duo describe it, it is fitting the album comes wrapped in a sleeve with no photos of its creators. It is a tribute to the album’s low-key relaxed feel that a record that spent so long in gestation sounds so well-rounded. Combining gently strummed or plucked nylon acoustic guitars, melancholy brass and subdued rhythms, the LP is a masterclass in subtlety. Gently ushered in by 'Foxes’ Song', the song progresses for a full two minutes before Lupe’s vocal enters, the unhurried feel setting the scene for what is to come. The warm hiss of the analogue recording and the ‘live’ atmosphere of the songs gives many of the tracks a ‘one off’ feel, as though they would be difficult to recapture. Up next, the recurrent lyric of "Something’s happening Here" of 'House of Flint' evokes Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What it’s Worth’, the deep-pile harmonies reminiscent of the golden age of American singer songwriters. The Laurel Canyon dwellers of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills and Nash informs the spirit of the record in its lazy sway as afternoon turns to dusk. ‘Bunhill Fields’ is a highpoint, the intriguing lyric, "You provoked me to be lonely/Words are geographical" backed by sidewinding string section and ominous brass accompaniment parts. ‘Season of Light, built around plucked guitar chords and reproachful brass hint at a dark undertow, the creeping malaise of the arrangement conveying a sense of unease not totally explained in the lyric. This and the rural setting of several tracks lead the duo into the territory of US singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens. In contrast, the suave bossa nova ‘I See Your Face’ wouldn’t sound out of place soundtracking Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn sashaying across the dancefloor while an international spy conspiracy plays out around them. The song is also a duet between the two vocalists, with singing duties elsewhere being handled individually. ‘Harvest Time’ juxtaposes English folk melodies with a Thomas Hardy-esque scene of the crops being gathered with the hazy flute-driven psychedelia of the Incredible String Band. This gentle, pastoral theme, heard on Pink Floyd’s early Syd Barrett written work focuses more on the Garden of Eden sense of the Summer of Love than its more aggressive US counterpart. Elsewhere, ‘Stone’, constructed around a gently rolling guitar arpeggio and overlapping vocals hypnotically draws the listener in, Alasdair MacLean’s slightly nasally, vaguely Dylan-esque voice bathed in reverb to soften it against Lupe’s whispered croon. The title track is possibly the most upbeat cut here, the pair’s harmonies intertwining beautifully on the most structurally straightforward song on the LP. While there are understandably highpoints on the disc, the album is best taken as a whole, a rarity in these iPod dominated days. Listening to the present understated gem on said device in its entirety however could turn even the most frantic tube journey into a restful experience.

Track Listing:-
1 Foxes' Song
2 House Of Flint
3 Bunhill Fields
4 Season Of Light
5 Late Mornings
6 Harvest Time
7 Dream (Dead Hands)
8 I See Your Face
9 Stone
10 Street Of The Love Of Days
11 Birds
12 Touchstone
13 Wandering
14 Wild Winter Trees
15 Foxes' Song (Reprise)

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