Six By Seven
Love and Peace and Sympathy
published: 13 /
Borrowed Tune Motion Pictures
Melancholic but immense-in-sound and powerful comeback album from Nottingham-based space rockers/punks, Six by Seven
When ‘Love and Peace and Sympathy’ dropped on to my doormat, I thought to myself, “I have not heard anything from Six by Seven for a long while. It must be a compilation or something like that.” To my delight, it wasn't anything of the sort, but a brand new album from the East Midlanders. It is an excellent album from the band, whose last album was 2006's 'If Symptoms Persist, Kill Your Doctor’.
Six by Seven are based in Nottingham, although funnily enough none of them come from Nottingham. They formed in 1996, and specialised in a playing a brand of space-rock that fused Germanic type drones with the abrasiveness of punk at a time when the music business here was being forced to bash out nothing but popular Britpop and Britrock. They headed for Germany, and spent several months playing and living in a one bedroom flat and travelling with a car and a caravan. In a pretty bland time they started utilising a saxophonist, and former band member Sam Hempton chose to attack his guitar strings with a drumstick instead of a plectrum. In all, they have released six albums, along with a few compilations of studio offcuts and live performances.
Their first single was a track called 'European Me' which the ‘NME’ described as one of the greatest début singles of all time. They also released their first album ‘The Things We Make’ in May 1998 to widespread critical acclaim. After the ‘NME’ proclaimed the band as being the best act at Glastonbury 2008, the band split up in November of that year. They released a couple of tracks digitally under the name of the Death of Six by Seven. A few years later in May 2012 the Death of Six by Seven played their first gig at The Maze in Nottingham, followed by one in June in London. The line-up then featured Six by Seven members Chris Olley, James Flower and Pete Stevenson, as well as former Locus guitarist Martin Cooper. In September 2012 it was announced that ex-Placebo drummer, Steve Hewitt, had joined the band, and that they would be going into the studio to begin recording a new album as Six by Seven.
I am going to stick my neck out here, and say that this is the best album they have ever done. Their sound has an element of Spiritualised, and with the addition of Hewitt they have a thicker sounding drum beat. It contains nine tracks of sheer power and density. From start to finish, there is just under an hour of amazing sound. Each song is as good in its own way as the last.
The first three tracks, 'Change', 'Sympathy' and 'Truce', boast twenty one minutes on their own, and are a sublime way to start, being lyrically brilliant and morosely dark in its content. They draw on the sad parts of relationships from their full- blown heartfelt joy at the start to their dark destruction and devastation when they are no more. The proud, but stubborn side of 'Truce' is a gem on its own. “It’s looking like a storm is on its heels/It’s looking like the sky is feeling ill,” howls Olley as the music races from one tempo to the other in a crescendo of agreeable noise. The sound throughout is so tight you couldn't slide a feeler gauge through it. The dark sound continues beautifully – “Feel my destruction/Hold my dark side down,” sings Olley on 'Standing in the Light'. His low nocturnal vocals drift through each track like a haunting that needs more than an exorcism.
'Crying' is a last desperate charge at blaming the other for the end – “To say that warned you is putting it mildly/We can’t go back in time/ Nothing can help us now.” The whole wonderful affair ends with the anthemic 'Fall into your Arms', which is just under six minutes of sheer magnitude. Polished in its white double card sleeve, it has lyrics printed on the one side while the CD itself is protected by its own sleeve in the other.
After I'd listened to this the once, I was gobsmacked. When I listened to it again, I had that feeling you get when your team has just won the cup, or you’ve just watched a moment in history that you know won’t be beaten again or seen a comet or eclipse that you won’t witness ever again in your lifetime. This album is that big.
Standing in the Light
The Rise and Fall and Decline of Everything
Fall into Your Arms