Now Wakes the Sea – Fluoxetine Morning

 With one EP already to their name, out for free on Glasgow’s brilliant Wiseblood Industries, this is the debut album proper by Now Wakes the Sea.  Contrary to what their name might hint at, they aren’t a nasty emo band, in fact a wonderfully muffled, slow-moving lot.

Most bands who use these atmospheric, lo-fi productions methods do so to produce music which is raw and aggressive, daring you to tease the tune out of the static if you have the stamina.  Now Wakes the Sea, on the other hand, for all they have a couple of upbeat guitar pop numbers like the brilliant Seven Apples, use the muffled fuzz of the recording to create a gorgeously intimate feeling around their slow, pained songs.  It feels like a fireside confessional half the time, but the occasional bursts into full band beef and drifts into what borders on whimsy with songs like Subside make sure you don’t just get drowned in swamp of self-examination.

If the barely-structured ambient daze of The Fire on Hold pulls Fluoxetine Morning in one direction, and Seven Apples pulls it in another, what these songs chiefly serve to do is bookend the emotional range of the album.  Fluoxetine is an anti-depressant, and those two songs seem to express the barely-conscious narcotic daze at one end of the spectrum, and the bursts of determination at the other end, but it treats them like struggling insects who will never escape the spider’s web – one still fighting to get out, and the other on the very cusp of giving up altogether.

I think a couple of things make this stand out for me.  Firstly, on a purely technical level, the acoustic guitar, brief glimmers of noise and occasional use of things like drums cut through the fug of the downbeat, muffled body of the instrumentation, meaning this is a long way from just being a depressing dirge of an album, and never feels one-paced.

Then, in terms of emotional connection, there is something about the vocal delivery which is absolutely gorgeous.  It’s slow, barely even a singing voice half the time, and delivered with near perfect ambiguity between confidence and indifference.  It’s not an intimidated, halting delivery, but at the same time it doesn’t seem to presume that you give a shit. The depression hinted at in both the album and the song titles, whilst it seems present throughout the record, doesn’t feel like something which drags it down.

So, treading a lot of very fine lines indeed, this has ended up being an absolutely fantastic record.  For all the noise and ambience employed, it is still an album defined by its songs, and for all the morose themes explored it still feels like an album defined warmth and caring, and by its relationship with others, rather than just itself.

Now Wakes the Sea – Propranolol
[audio:http://songbytoad.com/tunes/NowWakestheSea-Popranolol.mp3]
Now Wakes the Sea – Seven Apples
[audio:http://songbytoad.com/tunes/NowWakestheSea-SevenApples.mp3]

Download or buy CD from Bandcamp.

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