I accepted this review on the basis of the band’s wicked name- it turns out that was the smallest of the great feats this album has achieved. Taking the fluid, minimalistic and hook driven writing style often shown by guitar bands such as Foals, Awesome Wells place this stylistic outlook upon the vocal and horn harmonies common to the likes of Mumford And Sons. Audacious, but the band have pulled it off with considerable aplomb.
The album opener, ‘Luchadora’, starts with jangly synths and a hyperbolic use of shaker and funky bass riffs sets you up for this record. It reaches a new dimension with its subtle but ornate vocal harmonies that create a vibrant but minimalistic soundscape. The next track and album highlight, ‘BEARS’, opens with the haunting hooting of an owl followed by a gentle piano refrain which remains steadfast throughout. Throughout this album, one just feels the wonderfully prevailing emotion of summer. Perhaps what is most exciting about this record is that it is catchy and musically literate but at the same time it has something intangible about it; a meandering, yet inexplicably groovey, pace. When I hear the trumpet and vocal harmonies I develop butterflies in my stomach, but at the same time there are little electronic bits and pieces added that make this a thoroughly modern record.
The next track ‘Sunday Evening’ really evokes the production techniques of the chillwave movement; syncopated keyboard riffs, roughly recorded hand claps and lush harmonies. It also has this steady rhythm throughout all the tracks which is incredibly hypnotic and calming.
‘Stickleback’ is pumped full of angular melodies, afro-beat rhythms and packed full of plush, power-pop. However, this all changes with ‘You’re Flogging A Dead Horse, Jon’ which features delicate trumpet melodies and floating vocals giving the song an oddly funky but thoughtful vibe. This album has really succeeded in achieving what it set out to do, no track is too long, too short or misplaced. The final track ‘Norman’ despite starting with rather annoying guitar makes up for it with the incredible use of steel drums and brilliantly placed horns and percussion.
This album is thoughtful, exciting and upbeat and, without doubt, one of my personal favourite records of the summer. It should be sitting in your pocket too. To sum it up, it sounds as if Vampire Weekend have become less arch, more chilled and bumped into Mumford And Sons, but this doesn’t sound like a chance meeting, more of a match made in heaven. For me, this record ticks all the boxes for the record I’ve been searching for this summer.
Released on 25th April by Red Deer Club Recordings