REVIEWED: And So I Watch You From Afar – All Hail Bright Futures

Written by Mario Gautreau

And So I Watch You From Afar have a gift for technical catchiness. The new album All Hail Bright Futures – as its name implies - is a quirky and positive collection of melodically dancy tunes that work in unison as a sort of concept album, giving some vibrant youthfulness to the world of music. The largely instrumental collection is speckled with group vocals here and there that tend to repeat one line/word, while the straightforward time signatures make it easily accessible without sacrificing creativity.

I’d be interested to see the array of effects ASIWYFA used on the album, as the album makes it a point of having a broad scope of aural tonalities, making the transition between parts all the more impactful. Jumbled along are some quirky bits and pieces, which ASIWYFA seem to liberate themselves in experimenting with whatever idea came to mind. While some of these ideas can sound a bit discombobulated, it seems to be all in good fun and doesn’t lose too much in terms of cohesiveness. And there’s no denying that it’s a fun album full of pep and vigor. Songs like AMBULANCE showcase the possible dimensions and the potential of layers is building things up, doing their own version of quiet-loud-quiet-loud. Meanwhile a track like “Ka Ba Ta Bo Da Ka” revolves around a looped vocal build-up of those senseless syllables. Two-thirds of the way in, the song shifts gears and paces itself to meld seamlessly into “Things Amazing”, but nowhere on the album is there anything annoying. It just has samples of everything the Northern Ireland boys can do, delving into interludes (“Trails”), sing-along one-liners (most songs), hand claps, and even a tropical breakdown in “Rats on Rock.”

At times, the tonal textures and drumming patterns remind me a bit of Battles, Adebisi Shank, Fang Island and newer Tera Melos – which are by no means strikes again ASIWYFA.  Guitar pedals and layers fill out even the smallest spaces between notes, and the album seems like a natural progression in the world of mathy-whatever-you-want-to-call-it-post-most-things-rock-and-roll. The album showcases a plethora of influences, styles, and vibrancy that illustrates how the band is still going strong following the departure of Tony Wright. 

As a footnote, the first thing I noticed about the album was the first track’s title – Eunoia – which is the same name as an album by a project called Invalids, which is most definitely worth checking out for any fans of early Maps & Atlases and the like. (