Starting with Don’t Know Why, and consistently elevating you right the way through to Heartbreaker – Are We Static’s album Embers is a must-hear for fans of indie, soft rock, or, quite simply – great songs.
Don’t Know Why opens with a calming guitar riff and an overall sound that makes you feel immediately grateful for what you’re about to experience. The track has the uplifting chorus melody of an 80’s alt-rock band, complete with underlying sadness, yet the music and the leading vocal have the honesty and realness of some of the most blissful indie sounds from the past twenty years. The use of the key line for the hook is cleverly placed so as to re-capture your attention after waiting a while for the title to step forward. It has a resolve that finishes things off perfectly; the song, the mood put out by it, the wondering concept. From here on in this is the very least you can come to expect from Are We Static.
Take Your Time keeps things familiar, the band have a distinct sound that imprints its sense of character fairly quickly, only this time the energy is up a little. The track has a huge chorus section and somewhat epic, energetic riff that screams out for you to witness it at a live show, possibly a festival set. This energy continues to rise for Love & Maths, accompanied now by a slightly edgier, more confident vocal performance – appropriately adjusted for the switch to the imagery and storytelling that unfolds here. The melodies are effective – each song leaves you knowing it well, which is rare, particularly after a single listen. The music actually gets better the more you listen because you’re immediately familiar with it, so anything afterwards is inline with the satisfying warmth of your favourite songs.
As you make your way through Weight Of Water, She and Brighter Days, the music is likely to set in stone its role in your daily life. The sound has a distinct thread throughout – Are We Static are doing their thing, they’re doing it well, they’re doing it with real feeling and this is clear with every moment that passes, and furthermore; they’re writing incredible songs. The musicianship is creative and thoughtful and emotional, always executed with skill and precision, whether simple or complex in detail, and the way the tracks build up and evolve is extremely powerful. Brighter Days in particular – the song lifts you up and carries you away as the intensity and the dreamlike ambiance of the moment increase more and more. The vocal performances keep up with the energy perfectly, and the result of all of this at once is just beautiful.
The added blessing of this collection is the subject matter, the ideas. The lyrics are reflective; where the music leaves you wondering, thinking deeply, feeling calmer, the lyrics suggest pathways and possibilities that you perhaps hadn’t considered. The songs talk of love and life experiences, but they do so in a way that’s unique to the life of the songwriter, so it’s a whole new perspective to explore and open your mind to.
Angels To The End is a brilliant and quite literal example of this. The concept of angels suggests what the song will touch upon, but the lyrics come unexpectedly, and there is very specific talk of you will never see this point of view again. It’s a stunning song, and to each their own when listening in that it sends you into a series of memories and nostalgia unique to your own life. This is where good music becomes great music. It’s true to the artists making it, it’s clever, memorable, emotive, and thought provoking, but on top of all of this – it means something different and personal to every individual who witnesses it. It’s beautiful and poignant songwriting.
New York & California comes at the perfect time. Album arrangement is worth mentioning when it’s executed as effectively as this. The place you find yourself in, emotionally, at each point within the project, is consistently catered to. There’s a realness to the songs, half of which makes your thoughts wonder, makes you dream of distant places, and half of which gives you a rush of adrenaline and subsequently calms you to your very core.
The album closes with Heartbreaker. The energy is up, the music fills out and surrounds you like a wall of sound and depth. It’s an intense way to finish the project but it leaves you feeling refreshed and clear headed. The song, and much of the album, has an inspiring effect about it. There are some real moments of intensity, even darkness, but they’re surrounded by softness and light; the fusion creates an open and genuine arena within which your imagination can run wild. Heartbreaker has a sense of overcoming about it, a leaving behind of the past, of negative thinking; the inclination to move on and do the things that mean the most to you is further emphasised.
The album should, as mentioned, set itself in stone as part of your long term, go-to collection. There’s nothing fake or forced about the songs Are We Static write and perform. You’re guaranteed honesty, the rawness of human emotion, openness, poetry, and superb music. The riffs, the melodies, the intricacy and design of each and every track. It’s a stand out project and a great way to send 2017 off in the right direction.