Rock, September 2022

hfnalbum.pngSun's Signature
Sun's Signature
Partisan PTKF3015-1 (LP)

In 2001, I was given a sneak preview of an album by former Cocteau Twins vocalist Elizabeth Fraser and her partner Damon Reece, with the caveat that there were problems; and it looked like it might never get finished. I heard no more. Fraser, one of the most gifted singers of her generation, guested on other projects and released three singles, but at last the duo have delivered. Only 30 minutes long, it's a thing of rare beauty. Fraser sings towards the top of her register and relishes the space in the music, weaving through a mesh of electronics, clarinet and harps on 'Bluedusk', and on 'Golden Air' she navigates the guitars and rotating drum patterns, singing sublime multi-tracked chorales. Welcome back! MB


The Dream Syndicate
Ultraviolet Battle Hymns And True Confessions

The Dream Syndicate emerged in the psychedelic Paisley Underground scene of 1980s LA, but were also influenced by jazz and The Velvet Underground. Chris Cacavas from Green On Red has joined on keyboards and they sound as convincing as in their heyday. 'I'm a loosely bound novel, without an opening line', sings guitarist Steve Wynn on 'Beyond Control' and his gritty voice has weathered nicely. There's a dreaminess and a yearning to these songs lacking on their tougher-sounding 1984 breakthrough album The Medicine Show, but they turn it up a notch on the vast guitarscapes of 'Every Time You Come Around' and the '60s-style garage rocker, 'Straight Lines'. MB


Pure Reason Revolution
Above Cirrus
InsideOut 19439989392; LP: 19439989401

This UK trio identify as progressive rock, and their structural complexity is punctuated by metal guitar chords and gnashing bass. But while some groups categorised thus can be dragged down by their own weight, Pure Reason Revolution make great use of dynamics and space. 'Cruel Deliverance' is leavened by keyboards and Chloë Alper and Jon Courtney's sweet vocal harmonies – it ebbs and flows, but peaks on choruses of surging power. The album was premiered by a nine-minute epic single 'New Kind Of Evil', that guitarist Greg Jong describes as a 'beautiful melding of the halftime shuffle beat with a giant yet melodious guitar riff'. Which sums it up nicely. MB


The Great Awakening
Polyborus PLBR001cd/359041; LP: PLBR001lp/359042

Shearwater have been put on hold since 2015 due to front man Jonathan Meiburg's other musical projects and his researching and writing a book on the Caracara, a South American bird of prey. Most tracks unfurl at mid-tempo rather than rock out, although the guitar-driven 'Empty Orchestra' gains momentum and on 'Laguna Seca', strings sweep across the drum rhythms, and synths rear up to spectacular effect. There is much subtle detail in the mix – including field recordings – with Meiburg's high voice seductively switching up to falsetto, but any prettiness is underlined by a feeling of unease, and the spartan 'Milkweed' reminds one of latterday Scott Walker. MB