By: Ed Dyer
4 June, 2017, 14:27
To all intents and purposes, Amber Arcades is Dutch multi-instrumentalist and singer songwriter Annelote De Graaf, (a former aide at the UN war crimes tribunals no less) and a selection of session musicians and guests. This, the follow-up to last years debut album Fading Lines is a five track collection of exquisite and sparkling indie jangle pop ditties. Recorded swiftly in a two day break from touring, the pace of its creation has given the recording an energy and immediacy as well as a palpable texture.
EP Opener ‘Which Will’ is a reworking of a classic Nick Drake track, taking the originals typically breathy and plaintive melodies and re-inventing them as a hazy, urgent piece of flowing C86 indie pop. ‘It Changes’ ups the jangle quota and stomps along in a way that would have not been out of place on a festival stage in 1994 alongside Madder Rose or Magnapop – layered chorus melodies ear wormy and repeatable, the whole thing oozing energy.
Following this headlong rush, ‘Wouldn’t Even Know’ is a real gear change down both in tempo and mood. Guest vocals from ex-Coral man Bill Ryder-Jones are growly and murmured, at odds with De Graaf’s sweet and effervescent singing alongside him in a strange Beauty and the Beast fairy tale of contrast.
The tempo falls further with closing duo ‘Can’t Say That We Tried’ and ‘Cannonball’, the former a reflective drone of synth loops, the latter an echoing, ambient and hypnotic sway-along of a track, easily imagined as a lighters-aloft (or mobile phones I guess these days) moment at a live show.
The name of this EP (Cannonball) is a curious choice – is it simply a coincidence that this release shares a name with The Breeders breakthrough track? There are many lines to be drawn between the two bands within the music and attitudes, both fiercely independent and exhibiting great intelligence and conscience. Whether coincidence or not, this re-awakening of clever, melodic indie pop is to be welcomed with open arms, and hopefully will point the way for many more artists to follow suit.