Sennen: Widows (Hungry Audio, 2005)
The nu-gaze that is invading the land of the Brits has exploded in recent years and some of the best among this group of bands has been bubbling to the surface. Sennen happens to be one of those that have taken the genre to a new level. Hailing from the UK, James Brown, Laurence Holmes, Andrew Horner, and Richard Kelleway make nu-gaze that is breathtaking and altogether brilliant. Having made my generic accolades known, lets turn to the specifics.
Widows begins with a brilliant, atmosphere of droning guitars and subtle, spacey sounds. “I couldn’t Tell You” then glides into staccato percussion and gains structure over the floating ambience. The vox are easy, light and have a story-telling quality. From the second this disc starts, one is made incredibly aware that this is going to be a brilliant piece of art. The guitar tones are perfect, the mix is well conceived, and the song structure is beyond what most bands produce on their freshmen discs. As this track progresses, the metronomic feel is hypnotic and soothing. The writing is patient. Sennen allow their songs to breath and then explode. “Opened Up My Arms” begins with slow feedback and bursts into the speakers with heavy ride and pulsing guitars. Floating upon the complex percussion, the vox are light and perfect.
“Laid Out” follows with a flowing wall of sound that whirls and fades, giving way to great vox on top of simple guitar work. The guitars sparkle ala Slowdive and the percussion comes in with crisp movement. Something Sennen is able to do perfectly is infuse their music with emotive brilliance rather than just allow the lyrics to carry of that meaning. “All the Time” begins with those droning beautiful, droning guitars. This track is quieter and has a slowcore vibe that mixes well with Sennen‘s shoegaze mastery. The vox on this track are also elongated in their expression, giving the song a longing feel. “All the Time” is a breathtaking track, perhaps my favorite on the disc. It eventually explodes into a huge wall of sound and then fades.
“It’s Not Like It Used to Be” has a grand Slowdive fell to it. It begins with simple guitar and stripped down drums. The vocals are breathy and perfect and they float as elements of percussion and guitar get brought into the mix. This track is incredible because the vox never really change their tempo or shape but the instruments flawlessly change-up underneath them as the track progresses. The track ends in chaos as all the elements collapse in on one another. “One and the Same Thing” picks up on the previous noise fest and brings it under control with a driving, distorted guitar and pulsing percussion. This track has the feel of Echo and the Bunnymen meets Curve. Brilliant, powerful, simply amazing! The final track is “Widows.” Jangly, soft guitars echo at the beginning on top of drones that are eventually joined by percussion. The track is patient, listful and sad as it builds its effect on the listener. This moves into a moment that explodes with fierce volume and layered guitars. The song turns into an instrumental epic that soars. This 8:30 track is a grand finale for this disc and really brings together all the strengths found on the album as a whole. An appropriate title track for these shoegaze masters.
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