(Out Sept 8th on Superball)
“AN ALBUM IS JUST A GOOD PARTY OF LIKE MINDED FRIENDS” enthuses Sel Balamir, vocalist of mercurial Manc space marauders Amplifier. He’s not kidding. Album number five sounds like they went to the studio whazzed to the tits on vodka, in comparison to last years lacklustre Echo Street. Not since their debut back in ’04 has this crew sounded so energised and positive; the phantasmogorical artwork providing an indication they’re cutting loose to explore a more free, genre-spinning sound. The heavy Rock and monolithic guitars are still present and correct, but what makes this release immediately more ‘un-demanding’ than Insider or its sprawling follow up The Octopus, is its concise vibrancy.
Opener Magic Carpet is a widdling instrumental windstorm that jabs the senses, before Black Rainbow and Named After Rocky batter the defenses with crunching guitar, rumbling basslines and soaring solos. Bride and Open Up are emblematic anthems to appease any zealots, chaotic and combustable, grateful and gratifying. Balamir describes it as “a summertime Rock record to hopefully make people feel good when they listen to it”. He needn’t worry. Because where they may previously have drawn upon dark heavily rooted themes, here they’re in more playful mood. Epitomised by tracks like Cats Cradle, which initially feels like an unwelcome foray into maintream experimentalism, utlimately revealing itself as a surprising and bold step forward.
Compact, no-nonsense and building on their rockist core with songs that twist and twine around each other, this is another expansive record that finally sees Amplifier playing to their strengths and boxing clever. (8)