And So I Watch You From Afar, All Hail Bright Futures

And So I Watch You From Afar, <em>All Hail Bright Futures</em>

Joy and wonder. That’s the key, at least a fair amount of the time — it’s not always what’s most important in music, but when I go looking for new bands or songs or albums to love, what I’m really looking for is that feeling, that wide-eyed, is-this-seriously-happening? feeling of wonderment, of sheer, unabashed joy in the band doing what they love to do.

It’s why I like a lot of bands, honestly. It’s why I spent many days in high school and college crashed out on my back in the sunshine, listening My Blood Valentine at the highest volume I could stand. It’s why I can’t help but like The Flaming Lips, The Polyphonic Spree, The Weakerthans, or M83; they’re all bands that just explode with that feeling. All those classical composers knew it well, too, and channeled it through their work into these massive, heart-shattering pieces of music that even now make people weep.

And yeah, that’s what happens with Belfast band And So I Watch You From Afar, too, at least on new album All Hail Bright Futures. From the first Afrobeat-influenced trill of “Eunoia” through to the hazy roar of “Young Brave Minds,” the four guys ASIWYFA play with gleeful abandon, gigantic cheeky grins seemingly plastered across their faces as they bounce along. Each track damn near drips with that aforementioned joy, and each one builds and builds to these impassioned, crescendoes that practically burst into space.

Listening to All Hail Bright Futures, the comparison that comes most readily to mind is to Reptar, but while both bands share a penchant for bright, infectious melodies, speeding rhythms, and a generally sunny vibe, they’re differentiated by their overall goals: where Reptar is all about sexing you up and getting down on the dancefloor, ASIWYFA are just about having fun, however they hell it is you do it. If you met both bands at a party, Reptar would be in the center of the living room, hitting on every woman in sight, while ASIWYFA would be in the kitchen, slam-dancing with beers in their hands.

Like Reptar, though, it’s hard to pin ASIWYFA down to one particular sound; rather, they trip blithely through genre after genre, cheerfully swiping some electro-pop touches over here, some hardcore breakdowns over there, and some seriously prog-y guitars back over there. They definitely dwell in a realm somewhere near the whole crop of nu-Afrobeat bands that’ve come out these past several years, but with a penchant for things proggy and technical and spiraling that those bands can’t really match. Imagine Vampire Weekend on speed and playing Yes songs double-time through Parts & Labor’s amps, and you’ll have kind of an idea of what this sounds like.

Keep in mind, as well, that Futures is pretty much an instrumental album — there are a few chanted/yelled bits thrown in there, but really, they’re very few and far between (okay, so “Ka Ba Ta Bo Da Ka” does revolve around some repeated vocal parts, but they’re used as instruments there, so it doesn’t really count). And despite the almost-complete lack of vocals and lyrics and whatever, the album still sucks you in and makes you listen, makes you smile and bang your head along with the band, even.

I can’t really go through a track-by-track analysis here, because while there are definitely a handful of standout tracks (the guitars on “Big Thinks Do Remarkable,” for one, are fucking incredible), the album rolls on almost like a long orchestral suite (see the bit about classical composers, above), with one song segueing into the next and so on and so on, until your head’s spinning and your ears are ringing, but you don’t freaking care, because it’s so goddamn awesome.

I’ve listened to All Hail Bright Futures all the way through three times this morning; think I’m going to go ahead and queue it up again right now.

[And So I Watch You From Afar is playing 10/20/13 at Fitzgerald’s, along with TTNG, Mylets, & Sunrise and Ammunition.]
(Sargent House --; And So I Watch You From Afar --; And So I Watch You From Afar (Facebook) --; And So I Watch You From Afar (Twitter) --
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Review by . Review posted Sunday, October 20th, 2013. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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One Response to “And So I Watch You From Afar, All Hail Bright Futures

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 3: And So I Watch You From Afar (Rev’d!) + TTNG + John Fogerty + Funeral Horse + Oceans of Slumber + More on October 20th, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    […] And So I Watch You From Afar/TTNG/Mylets/Sunrise and Ammunition @ Fitzgerald’s This is the big one, to me, not least of all because I’ve been listening to And So I Watch You From Afar‘s new album, All Hail Bright Futures, nearly nonstop for the past two days. And holy fucking wow, is it amazing. The Belfast instro-rock outfit mashes together supremely technical prog-rock guitars, bouncy Afrobeat rhythms, crunching epic metal, and ridiculously infectious melodies together into something that’s unlike anything I’ve heard before (and I’ve heard quite a bit). Check out the full review over here. […]

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