Previous singles ‘Jamaica’ and ‘Two Hours’ couldn’t be closer to pop perfection if they were matured in Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s musical wine cellar. The former’s ‘Find it in me to be your lover / Find it in me to be your friend’ is as potent as opening lines go, while the latter lodges in your head and refuses to part. In such illustrious company, ‘A Place They’ll Never Know’ struggles by comparison, drifting along without really catching alight. It’s a particular shame as the multi-tracked breakdown is a thing of real beauty.
The one song to have single-handedly worn out the repeat button here is the Ed-from-Friendly Fires-produced ‘Tonight’. It has the Fires’ unmistakeable fingerprints in its DNA, an ethereal mass of swirling voices, electronic swishes and funky percussion. It’s a love-propelled falsetto swell of escapism for your eardrums fit for banishing even the darkest sense of winter blues. By stark contrast, ‘Saccades (Lines We Delay)’ is a strange beast indeed. Starting off as a sleepy vocoder-strewn ballad like Daft Punk on tranquillisers before giving way to an insistent electronic groove, it may not steal your heart on first listen but will draw you in with its ingenuity upon repeated plays.
The second half of the record kicks off with ‘Wax’, a track first unleashed as a double A-side back in August 2011 yet one that still sounds incredibly fresh. Here frontman Miles Haughton appears to morph uncannily into Alex Kapranos complete with distinctive intonation over squelchy synths, falsetto pulls and even a spot of whistling over a cheeky little summery groove. ‘Ghosts’ attempts to channel the same spirit of lazy afternoons and endless sunshine but it’s mere shadowboxing in comparison with its hummable counterparts.
In a record where there are a minor derivations on a tried and tested formula, ‘Still Life’ is a major curveball; a high-risk almost jazz-like number that’s almost ruined by the strange whizzing noise that could easily be a kazoo teasing its wares throughout. Penultimate number ‘Los Chikas’ strips everything back to acoustic guitars and hand drums with deft simplicity, a simple two-minute coda of female adoration whose ‘all these pretty girls, they look so fine’ couplet is wonderfully playful innocence. ‘Blind’ is a perfectly pitched closer, an incredibly maturely-crafted piece complete with some beautiful lyrics, and a widescreen end of the night feel which leaves the listener feeling that anything is possible.
In a musical climate where many bands create a fuss with a string of catchy forward-thinking singles and fail to deliver an album capable of justifying the fervour, Theme Park have emerged clutching the victory flag from beneath the rubble.
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