The first time I listened to this album was on my iPod when I was going to the supermarket. It was dark and raining. The album opens with a fifty-three second long tribal drumming intro. It was one of those moments where music and environment match perfectly. “Yeah, I’m gonna like this album,” I thought.
Then the second track started and I thought, “Oh, okay, they’re actually some boring indie guitar lot who sound like they listen to bands like The Shins far too much. God, I’m gonna hate this. It’s gonna be run of the mill, dull, same old, heard it all before, boring boring boring. I’m gonna hate this. Hang on, why aren’t I hating this? This is actually pretty good.”
Because although, yes, this is another American indie guitar band, there’s something a little different and fresh about ‘A Different Ship.’
There’s a moment in this album that really sums up why it’s as good as it is. About halfway through the song ‘I Believe In Action,’ there’s a switch in its style. Up until then the song has been, if you’ll forgive me for crude comparisons, like a meeting point of Field Music and Battles. We have the sort of repeated guitar lines and sounds that are now commonly referred to as ‘angular,’ but softly done and matched with some nice close indie pop harmonies. Then it changes into a sort of mid/late 70’s krautrock influenced jam. The key is how the change is done. It’s not immediate or jarring. What it does is subtley morph one element into the other. And that’s the key to the whole album. Subtlety.
Even down to the vocals. Too many bands/artists seem to think they’ve written some Smiths/Joy Division rivalling profundity and want to ram it as far into your ears as they can. Here We Go Magic seem to treat vocals as a musical element to be blended into the pack. As a result I can’t really tell you anything about the lyrics, but I can tell you that they sound really nice and, most importantly, they’re delivered in a way that fits with the music really well.
See, ‘A Different Ship’ isn’t an instant fix. It’s warm and a bit of a slow burner, in the sense that it’s gradually revealing its layers to you, rather than shoving them all in your face, screaming “LOOK AT ME,” like a lot of popular music seems to do now. I don’t know, maybe I’m just getting old, but it’s really nice to hear an album that grows on you, and makes you want it to by the fact that you feel you haven’t got all it has to offer on your first go with it.
Get this album and give it some time and space. It’s worth it, and there’s a slight haziness to this album that’s gonna make it a really nice summertime listen.