The Amazing- The Amazing

posted 7 Dec 2009, 12:18 by Harry Cooke

[Subliminal Sounds]

Release Date: 16 November 2009


by Patrick Lee

Six organs of Admittance
Sun Kil MoonSigur Ros, Bon IverVetiverThe Amazing wear their influences very clearly on their sleeve and produce music which is irritatingly more commercially accessible. This doesn't take away from the fact that the music is still more than competent, but at times overly drawn out and long winded; with guitar riffs winding on and on. This is a bittersweet criticism as it adds to The Amazing's downbeat, emotional beauty, which despite being suppressive to the cynical listener, is a difficult thing to get right and not make a complete tit out of yourself.

While not as challenging or iconoclastic as some of its influences, the Amazing nonetheless have made a successful, listenable album that can be described with adjectives such as 'beautiful', 'naturally melodic', 'soulful' and of course 'amazing'.

The best thing about psych-folk and just plain old folk albums these days, and as Bob Dylan puts it, is the heart and the personal touch artists give from themselves to a song. Bon Iver's 'For Emma, Forever Ago' was written after Justin Vernon left his long term girlfriend and band and went to live alone in the woods. Mark Kozelek sings about drugs, egos and sleeping with band members girlfriends.  With The Amazing it seems to be instead about ticking all the boxes.

One of the albums high points is 'Dragon', one of the rare songs on the album where variation is used. Guitars inventively play over each other with an organ accompanying, very effectively shouldering the swooning lyrics. Another stand out track is 'Dead', which builds to a mighty crescendo, and, like most of the songs on this album, is a good example of intense repetition. This time however, it works beautifully well, with the bass line almost never changing.

If bands like Six Organs of Admittance led us to the field to wistfully gaze at the sky and hum melancholy folk songs, The Amazing would certainly add to the soft lamentable atmosphere. My only criticism is they bridge the gap between psych-folk's freakish diversity and a clean image. There is no fear or mystery or danger around The Amazing whatsoever. In fact I imagine their potentially biggest fan to be Ned Flanders. They are a clean, accessible and beautiful sounding band. They don't have that edge (like, remember when Devendra Banhart was scary?) The Amazing's press release assures us that the band are friends first and foremost, before the music.

 The puzzle is complete with a grainy black and white picture of the band, with the singer rubbing his face in a down and out way. It's all good, and it's all there, but to be honest I think some controversy wouldn't go amiss with the album as a whole. As sweet, melodic, soulful and amazing as it is, it ends up just too emotional, just too candle-lit soft gazing into each other's eyes kind've music. Like, white chocolate and people with posh accents, it becomes too sickly. A good candidate for an album to buy your parents or a down and out friend.