Album review: And So I Watch You From Afar

And So I Watch You From Afar - Heirs (Sargent House)

And So I Watch You From Afar.

And So I Watch You From Afar.

HAVING BROKEN new ground, not only for themselves, but also for the post-rock genre with 2013’s All Hail Bright Futures, Antrim’s ASIWYFA could hardly be expected to reinvent the wheel yet again.

Heirs is, in many ways an appropriate title, as this album is the ‘heir’ to its predecessor, in that it takes the time to explore the possibilities ...Bright Futures opened up.

If ...Bright Futures was characterised by the excitement of new possibilities, Heirs refines and defines those possibilities, without losing the band’s trademark energy. This is best heard in its use of contrasts, where, on tracks like ‘Wasps’, it is often wonderfully posed between nervous energy and confident calm, as Thin Lizzy style twin-lead harmony guitars becalm rumbling, boisterous riffs and rhythms, and terrace chant vocals.

Indeed vocals have an increased significance here, be it through lyrics (the invigoratingly anthemic ‘Redesigned A Million Times’ ) or vocals as another instrument (the magnificently over the top choral-rock prog of ‘Animal Ghosts’ ), yet it never comes at the expense of the idea that this album is, front and centre, about the music.

As ever, though, for a band that constantly seeks to challenge itself, Heirs also hints at just where ASIWYFA might go next.

‘People Not Sleeping’ is unlike anything else in their canon, having a solid rhythm, unlike the jittery patterns usually favoured by post-rock. Coming in on an off-beat, the guitar lines show a new sophistication and finesse to their playing, marrying excellently both melody and dissonance. As ever, the Ulstermen have delivered something satisfying and whetted the appetite for future developments.

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