I’m a real sucker for exactly this kind of music, and boy do these guys do it well. To glance at the artwork for Everything To A Point you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve clicked on a Stone Roses album by mistake, but thankfully As We Leave couldn’t be further away in sound. Based on the Isle of Wight, the band – made up of childhood friends Caine Entwistle, Tom Gardner, Kyle Abram, and Kit Jolliffe – describe themselves as a psych-pop outfit, and the five tracks that make up this magnificent debut EP ooze a certain 60s & 70s-Americana-infused vibe that marks them out.
Opening the set is Hope That Kills: a fine song that rolls along on warm acoustic guitar, stately pedal steel, and intricate electric guitar textures. It’s the kind of bittersweet, laid-back tune that calls to mind the likes of Neil Young’s mid-70s work, and would really feel at home on something like Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky. Utterly gorgeous, basically. On the second track, Dreamland, the band introduce some subtle electronics to the mix. It’s got a great feel, with the verses in particular reminding me of Supergrass’ much-overlooked Road to Rouen LP. The production is really strong, and the way that the chorus cuts through and blossoms is particularly breathtaking.
Taking the off-kilter 60s vibe that runs through the previous two tracks and dialling it all the way up, Counterpoint is an absolute joy. The organ and fuzz guitar are particularly cool… but what I really like about what the band do here, is how economical they are. There’s so much space in the mix, and a sense that these songs have been really poured over – not that you’d necessarily think that on first listen. Lyrically, all five tracks are impressive, but I really like the vague, almost-surreal chorus of “Black and white views turn ashen and grey / Living the dream, it seems miles away / Not sure of it all, but it’s what you say / Blocks up the hallway, the smaller the space“.
Stories We Tell, with its outro of “You and I, we’re reaching for the stars in everything we do“, is a nostalgic, sun-soaked treat with an anthemic chorus that’s difficult to resist. Again, the arrangement is wonderfully concise, and the production clean and straightforward. It leads beautifully into the gorgeous, spacey Body Clock too – which sees another subtle shift in tone that slowly unwinds over a steady dry beat, washes of ethereal guitar, and a bed of spacey synth. There’s a similarity to Tame Impala’s last couple of records in the luscious melody and the lo-fi production that exerts a hold over you until it abruptly ends, leaving you wanting more. It’s wonderful.
Everything To A Point is a superb debut. There’s a lot going on within these five tracks – echoes of rural island heritage, rose-tinted nostalgia, shared memories of school days and travelling the world, betrayal, and celestial escapism – but, put simply, they’re just five exceptional songs. As We Leave have stumbled on something great here, and I look forward to hearing more.
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