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Amazing - Ambulance

  by Adrian Janes

published: 29 / 7 / 2016

Amazing - Ambulance
Label: Partisan Records
Format: CD


Tender yet melancholic fourth offering from sensitive Swedish post-punk band, The Amazing

“An ambulance picks up the wounded,” says The Amazing’s vocalist and guitarist Christoffer Gunrup, and this collection of melancholic songs, at its best, expresses and coolly tends to emotional hurts. The music is swathed in reverb, while Gunrup’s voice (especially on ‘Tracks’ and ‘Moments Like These’) evokes Nick Drake. There’s also some sumptuous use of harmonies, as on the title track and ‘Floating’, the latter’s American soft-rock feel bringing to mind a Nordic Midlake. While the dominant mood is melancholic, at the same time there’s often a certain sense of restraint in the singing and playing, as if the band were musical paramedics who can’t afford to get too emotionally involved if they are to do their job. As a result there are passages that teeter on the edge of blandness, for example ‘Divide’, which is only rescued from this fate by some plangent guitar and Moussa Fadera’s lively drum fills. ‘Blair Drager’ on the other hand has a more forceful, compelling rhythm, driven by Fadera’s choppy drum pattern and some sinister lower register work by bassist Alexis Benson which is reflected in Gunrup’s vocal. Crossed with swooping guitar, and opening out into a strong chorus, then climaxing with strings and more supple bass runs, it’s arguably the album’s outstanding track. The Cure are cited by Gunrup as a conscious influence. In the spare, precise use of guitar notes and phrases, such as on the downbeat ‘Through City Lights’, The Amazing suggest not only the medicine man from Crawley but the characteristic post-punk guitar aesthetic of bands like New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Sound. This is one song where, at nearly eight minutes long, the gamble between establishing an atmosphere and simply not knowing when to stop seems lost, though usually better judgement is shown as the rest of the songs are more concise but still allow time for the band to stretch out to some extent. The album moves into a final, folkier phase with the flowing, acoustic-led ‘Moments Like These’ and the ballad ‘Perfect Day for Shrimp’ (though presumably not for the shrimp themselves). While the moods of the album largely shift from shadow to brief sunlit interludes then back again, these have something a little sunnier about them, where the latter “Seems to glimmer, seems to shine”. While ‘Ambulance’ is not an album to make you stand back in amazement, several listens convince that its depths are certainly worthy of contemplation.

Track Listing:-
1 Ambulance
2 Divide
3 Blair Drager
4 Tracks
5 Floating
6 Through City Lights
7 Moments Like These
8 Perfect Day for Shrimp

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