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Tough Love Records

  • Astrel K 'The Foreign Department' PRE-ORDER

    Tough Love Records

    Astrel K 'The Foreign Department' PRE-ORDER

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    Tough Love Records

    Astrel K 'The Foreign Department' PRE-ORDER

    £23.99

    Release Date: 08/03/2024

    “But into my miserable brain, always concerned with looking for noon at two o’clock"

    - Charles Baudelaire (1869)

    The Foreign Department is the second album by Astrel K, the solo project helmed by Stockholm-based British ex-pat, Rhys Edwards. Those already familiar with Edwards’ work will likely know him for fronting the cultishly great Ulrika Spacek, and given he operates as the principal songwriter in both projects, much of the same hallmarks of his cathartic, elliptical songwriting are present in Astrel K. Nonetheless, The Foreign Department feels like a rubicon moment of sorts, and the album that Edwards has unconsciously been working towards his entire creative life.

    As a title, The Foreign Department offers an instructive guide for the listener, framing a life-in-transition/artist-in-exile document that maps two impromptu moves in twelve months for its songwriter: the first from London in pursuit of a relationship, the second between homes in Stockholm as that decade long relationship then suddenly dissolved.

    Indeed, diffusion, dissolution and reconstitution feel like appropriate touchstones for its recurring themes. Written amidst the flux of two states, at once isolated from home and then any established emotional anchor, the resulting eleven tracks came to represent a precognitive search for shifting identity and with it forming an unwittingly biographical record. It's commendable and somewhat telling that during this shake up, Edwards somehow landed upon his most realised and original work.

    With a former life stripped away, there emerged an opportunity to reinvent a sense of self through art, now not just as a writer, but a composer also. Developing the confidence to arrange songs in ways he'd previously considered off-limits, while also taking cues from the opulent string and brass arrangements of records like Mercury Rev's Deserters' Songs and Death of A Ladies Man by Leonard Cohen, Edwards enlisted a range of performers to bring to life the mini-symphonies forming in his head. Perhaps it's inevitable that an album written while facing the consequences of being alone would eventually ossify around the process of bringing people together.

    For all its troubled origins, The Foreign Department is a remarkably warm sounding collection. Edwards' lyrics are typically knotty and neurotic, dancing around the poetry of quarter-life anxiety, but the music itself is often joyous and even uplifting, the combination expressing that neat duality of melancholic euphoria.

    Edwards sings variously of crises, "torrid pieces of art", of "houses on fire" and not "having the guts for it", yet these troubling sentiments are framed by seemingly incongruous swelling strings, chirping horns or motorik percussion, creating that sense of pushing forward or floating above, of wrapping your troubles in dreams, a salve for the moments when you get a bit too much for yourself.

    Lead single, 'Darkness At Noon', likely captures this all best. Named for the French idiom "midi a quatorze heures", the maddening idea of attempting the impossible for the sake of some greater possibly pointless cause, it directly grapples with the opposing notions of wanting and not wanting, of being here and being there at the same time. The conflicting and impossible self. It’s something Edwards addresses in the song at perhaps his most open, opining, “I know I want to be seen, but I hate most of what comes out of me”. And yet here is, putting it all out in the open and on the line, the dialectics of his enlightenment up on show.

    Tracklisting:
    1. Heavy Is the Head
    2. Darkness At Noon
    3. By Depol
    4. Brighter Spells
    5. Firma
    6. Birds In Vacant Lots
    7. The Foreign Department
    8. C Ya!
    9. A Rudderless Ship
    10. Daffodil
    11. R U A Literal Child?
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  • The Reds, Pinks And Purples 'Unwishing Well' PRE-ORDER

    Tough Love Records

    The Reds, Pinks And Purples 'Unwishing Well' PRE-ORDER

    £12.99

    Release Date: 12/04/2024

    The cinema of the scenes as told from the heart and spirit of the omniscient narrator shines through the awe-inspiring oeuvre of Glenn Donaldson's canonical titan that is The Reds, Pinks & Purples. The storied and esoteric histories of every underserved underdog becomes immortalized in records and poignantly penned paeans that evoke the eras and underachievers that became synonymous with their own respective corresponding localized micro-movements.

    Donaldson channels that psychic spirit and journeyman earned wisdom to provide contemporary era rock operas that eulogize tales of infinitely influential rises and falls. Crystalizing the tragic self-celebrating kingdoms of fortunate failures, false heroes, music press deities of limitless deceit, hometown dive gods and humanity in the grips of all its romanticized wonder and woe — the latest sortie of the sensational and spectacular takes aim at the threads of hope and an untethered abandon into the intimacy and dualities of idolatry and isolation with Unwishing Well.
     
    Ever since its emergence from the harried late 2010s — The Reds, Pinks & Purples have become the absolute encapsulation of Donaldson's own proliferation and prestige. From a musical legacy that chronicles a long list of minor successes and major tragedies; Glenn distills the timelines of distinction from yesterday, today, tomorrow and whatever may be into a musical phenomenon that embodies something more than all of its analogous inspirations.

    Beyond the clamor about the retro cult pop artistic allusions and tropes that can be found in those spirit expanding kaleidoscope chord chimes; Donaldson takes you on a guided tour through the San Francisco underground movements that would have been, could have been or perhaps never were at all from the start. The Reds, Pinks & Purples’ coveted catalog inadvertently, consciously or unconsciously, offers an authorized and anonymous history of imperfect and ambitious debutantes, dilettantes, auteurs, et al.

    The lauded visionaries whose volition informed the big money touring stage headliners, but only enjoyed a fleeting jaunt through the glorious corporate clad carnival canopies from the touring circuit routes and tech funded festival tent tabernacles. Unwishing Well is a eulogy for the buzz bands that crashed, the wily one hit wizards, and omnipresent (and often uninspired) eternal aesthetes who work the lucrative outlets of licensing media markets.
     
    Glenn pulls no punches with the promiscuity of the pop machines and their exploited propped up brand ambassadors on the cutting "Your Worst Song is Your Greatest Hit" that tangles with the lumbering and inescapable creatives and careerist trajectories that trade in boardroom playbooks and verticals. Expressions and influencers break out into the collective commissaries of commerce exhibitionism on “Public Art”, to auditing the forums of fandom that pertain to developed affinities and the roads to rabid infatuation with the obsessive in earnest, “Learning to Love a Band”.
     
    And while the Glenn spins many yarns on the under-appreciated secret histories of DIY, Unwishing Well offers cathartic hymns of modern malaise. Sighing in lamentation of regressive trends, “What’s Going on with Ordinary People'' balks with concern over contemporary states of devolution, while “Faith in Daydreaming Youth” questions what vestiges of hope and valor can be found in the new vanguards of political bodies that govern the world’s sovereign daydream nations.

    The dustbins of dastardly discontinuity are imbued with desire and grief on the dramatist tragedy of “Dead Stars in Your Eyes”, to basking in the discarded ditches of the damned below in voids of obscurity on “Nothing Between the Lines at All”. The human addiction to languishing in anguish, misery and negativity tussles, tosses and turns on “We Only Hear the Bad Things People Say”, the penultimate ode to inherent human infallibility as Donaldson rides the audience out into the gilded sunset glow of “Goodbye Bobby”.
     
    The central set piece of Unwishing Well revolves around the title track that wrestles with wellness and wishes tempered by the sobering reality of ultra pragmatic skepticism. Donaldson shows the audience where the dream falls short, an indictment on the fickleness of wants and the life/work/art balances of making it all work. It's the group that never makes it, the idea that never gets off the ground, the recognition that never arrives, the raise that is never awarded, nor the promotion to the next ladder rung that remains laughably inaccessible. Glenn has the gift of bridging the divide between the hunger artist, their adoring cult public and the common threads that connect these local and global communities through the humanist cause of collective commiseration.
     
    As increasingly found in the continued adventures of The Reds, Pinks and Purples canon — Glenn circles the drain of surrendering to unabashed sentimentality in passions worthy of being showcased as the top headlining spot that your favorite revered then later reviled pop act never even had the chance to claim or ascend. Unwishing Well uplifts and uproots the undercurrents that carry the commonalities between the spectators and the spectacles. Donaldson pays homage in heart to everything and everyone that never got their due or to the lucky ones that made the grade, but paid an ultimate price.

    The cycle of these pop vignettes depict successes and failures in the same sentences, existing within the same stanzas, where the stories of making it and breaking it operate as events that live on different sides of the same coin. Unwishing Well is a reflection of us, the icons we adore, the Adonises we worship, the false prophets that proselytize the edicts from theses cults of personality, the fallouts, the third acts and the artistic fabrics that spool these sub-sects of artful dodgers into the stuff of legend.

    Tracklisting:
    1. What’s Going on with Ordinary people
    2. Learning to Love a Band
    3. Unwishing Well
    4. Faith in Daydreaming Youth
    5. Your Worst Song is Your Greatest Hit
    6. Dead Stars in your Eyes
    7. Nothing Between the Lines at all
    8. Public Art
    9. We Only Hear the Bad Things People Say
    10. Goodbye Bobby
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  • Ulrika Spacek 'Compact Trauma'

    Tough Love Records

    Ulrika Spacek 'Compact Trauma'

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    Tough Love Records

    Ulrika Spacek 'Compact Trauma'

    £23.99

    Close to 5 years on from their last transmission, Ulrika Spacek resurface from self-imposed exile with their 3rd album, Compact Trauma, a collection of songs that function as a chance treatise of sorts for our current collective condition.

    With a title like that arriving at this point in time, it’s tempting to interpret the record solely in the context of the global events of the past few years, but the roots of these 10 songs arc back much further in time, charged with their own personalised internal damage.

    Mid 2018, approaching exhaustion and feeling increasingly fragile from the stresses of itinerant road life, the 5 piece of Rhys Edwards, Rhys Williams, Joseph Stone, Syd Kemp and Callum Brown began work in earnest on the follow up to their 2nd album.

    Released less than a year earlier and having promoted it constantly in the months that followed, now might have represented a fine moment for the band to take a breath. Yet Ulrika Spacek were not familiar with the concept of slowing down, conditioned by a strong work ethnic and the demands of capricious touring cycles that necessitated more content and at speed.

    The band’s previous albums had both been recorded in KEN, a studio and rehearsal space that also doubled as their shared home. As writing for album 3 began, KEN suddenly became another victim to the indiscriminate violence of gentrification. Writing and recording was then abruptly shifted to a professional studio in Hackney. Tensions and logistical difficulties soon became apparent.

    The enforced switch to an unfamiliar locale would have been discomforting enough, but when allied with the fractures already beginning to splinter through the band, made for an especially frazzled experience. Somehow, a record began to emerge though it was one obviously infected with its circumstances. In its first phase of life, Compact Trauma was a document of a band striving to perfect an idea while the universe around them seemed to want to shut down.

    And then, at an impasse of sorts and with a record halfway complete, it suddenly did. If Ulrika Spacek were a band in need of the breaks applying, it was the force of a global pandemic that made it happen. As the world stood still, Compact Trauma was filed away, unfinished and unheard by the wider world. The prolonged break enforced by myriad lockdowns may have separated the group but it also afforded the 5 time to reflect on what had already been committed to tape... As the lights came back on and the shutters up, they found themselves drawn back towards Compact Trauma.

    What they rediscovered was a record that seemed to pre-empt the shared grief of a global pandemic. Addressing existential freak out, displacement, substance reliance and encroaching self-doubt, these highly personalised songs suddenly took on a wider significance, speaking in part to a bigger narrative.

    Opening track, ‘The Sheer Drop’, begins with the line “Homerton is caving in”; ‘It Will Come Sometime’ describes a “liver like a lightbulb and swelling”; and Lounge Angst (an almost perfect description of those maddening lockdown days indoors) laments, ‘seems my friends grew up or left’.

    The fear and panic is palpable. The lyrics are matched to a soundtrack that oscillates between the febrile and the off-kilter, unconventional song structures and knotty arrangements either spinning the listener in unexpected directions or offering some kind of cathartic release. Take, as example, the aforementioned opener, ‘The Sheer Drop’. A wire-taut exercise in tension-and-release rendered in 3 parts, a whimsical synth opening giving way to characteristic chiming guitars before a nail biting coda sets its controls for the heart of the sun or the end of the world, whichever comes first.

    Either way, it’s a hell of a way to reintroduce yourself after a 5 year absence. ‘If The Wheels Are Coming Off, The Wheels Are Coming Off’ is equally instructive, a lacerating exposition of self-doubt that bursts into ecstatic release at its climax, demanding repeat listens, while ‘Stuck At The Door’ is an 11-minute Pacific North West-style epic that threatens, ‘the worst of it’s to come’. But it’s the title track that might be the true heartbeat of the record.

    Either addressing itself or some unknown assailant, it begins by demanding that they “take your hands and your head off the table”, while spiralling around a breathless riff fuelled by an infectious anxious energy, before changing tact completely and shifting to a lullaby-like finale, concluding with the ominous thought, “compact trauma? Or full blown disaster? I'll be back in an hour (Or so i think)”. It’s a fitting encapsulation of a highly complex record. They could have left it alone, but in coming back to what they knew, Ulrika Spacek found their best work yet.

    Tracklisting:
    1. The Sheer Drop
    2. Accidental Momentary Blur
    3. It Will Come Sometime
    4. Lounge Angst
    5. Diskbänksrealism
    6. Through France With Snow
    7. If The Wheels Are Coming Off, The Wheels Are Coming Off
    8. Compact Trauma
    9. Stuck At The Door
    10. No Design
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  • The Stroppies 'Whoosh'

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    The Stroppies 'Whoosh'

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    Tough Love Records

    The Stroppies 'Whoosh'

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    Whoosh is a silly word,' says Gus Lord of the Stroppies. 'There is something completely nonsense about it, especially when removed from any kind of context. For me it conjures up images of something absurd and transient - two things fundamental in the experience of listening to or making good pop music.'

    Whoosh may indeed be a silly word but it almost onomatopoeically captures the sound and essence of The Stroppies first proper debut album, one that breezes along with boundless energy, a refrained pop strut, infectious grooves and the sort of jangling guitar melodies that sound like a prime-era Flying Nun band.

    Between them, the Melbourne-based band - currently comprising of Gus Lord, Rory Heane, Claudia Serfaty and Adam Hewitt - have been in countless bands such as Boomgates, Twerps, Tyrannamen, Primetime, Blank Statements, The Blinds, White Walls, See Saw and Possible Humans.

    The band formed together around a kitchen table in 2016 with a heavy focus around the essence of collaboration and a DIY ethos. This led to an acclaimed cassette release of lounge room recordings, which was then pressed onto vinyl to more acclaim. The Stroppies next step was then taking their DIY approach to home recordings into the studio to make a transitional leap to what would become their proper studio debut.

    'Whoosh is our first concerted effort to make something with a bit more sonic depth,'says Claudia Serfaty (the bands other primary songwriter). It's a record that possesses all the spunk and gusto of a young band hurtling forward yet also knowing when to take their foot off the accelerator. It's an album that simultaneously feels young and fresh but wise beyond its years. 'Whoosh is the most robust sounding release we have ever recorded,' Serfaty says.

    Combining taut post-punk rhythms, indie jangle, seamless melody and sugary pop, it's a record that Lord says is influenced by: 'All sorts of things - life, work, relationships, old cartoons and the last 60+ years of guitar-based pop music in some form or another.

    This includes everything from Bill Fay to the Clean to Stephen Malkmus.' We utilised whatever was on hand to pull sounds, including but not limited to vintage synths, rain sticks and an old door frame that we used for percussion.'

    This was done with Zachary Schneider, a friend of the band, budding producer and established musician who is most notable for his guitar work in bands such as Totally Mild, Free Time and Full Ugly.

    Tracklisting:
    1. Nothing At All
    2. Present Tense
    3. First Time Favourites
    4. My Style, My Substance
    5. Pen Name
    6. Cellophane Car
    7. Better than Before
    8. The Spy
    9. Entropy
    10. Switched On

    Release Date: 01/03/2019
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  • Toy 'Happy In The Hollow'

    Tough Love Records

    Toy 'Happy In The Hollow'

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    Tough Love Records

    Toy 'Happy In The Hollow'

    £11.99

    TOY have announced details of their new album, Happy In The Hollow, which is released on Friday January 25th 2019. Their fourth album, and their first for new label Tough Lough Records, it's unquestionably their most direct and propulsive album to date.

    Recorded between their own home tape studios and mixed at Dan Carey's Studio B in South London, the album was entirely produced and mixed by the band.
     
    Having recently released a limited 12' featuring The Willo' and Energy', the band have today shared the latest track from the album, Sequence One'.
     
    Talking about the track, Toy say:
     Sequence One'is about running through a war zone of post apocalyptic proportions with your significant other. It was one of the first tracks we wrote when we started making Happy In The Hollow. We wrote it on the 5th Of April.
     
    Happy In The Hollow is entirely uncompromising: an atmospheric capturing of a state of mind that touches on Post Punk, electronic dissonance, acid folk and Krautrock. Familiar qualities like metronomic rhythms, warping guitars, undulating synths and Tom's gentle, reedy vocals are all in there, but so is a greater emphasis on melody, a wider scope, and a combining of the reassuring and the sinister that is as unnerving as it is captivating.'

     
    The sound has without doubt expanded ' and grown more confident ' in part because this is the first album for which Toy has become a self-sufficient five-person unit doing everything for themselves.
     
    'Each song was a blank canvas,' says Maxim. 'Producers inevitably develop their own patterns over time, right down to certain drum sounds. We were starting from scratch and it felt very creative as a result. It's an album we feel deeply connected to'.

    Since 2010, Toy have earned a reputation as a band of integrity, virtuosity and taste, with Tom, Maxim, Dominic, Charlie and (joining in 2015) Max creating a sound that is embedded in the underground tradition, yet distinctly their own.

    Since their inception, they have released the acclaimed albums Toy (2012), Join The Dots (2013) and Clear Shot (2016), and toured everywhere from Serbia to China.
     
    TOY are: Tom Dougall (vocals / guitar), Dominic O'Dair (guitars), Maxim Barron (bass / vocals), Max Oscarnold (synths / modulations), Charlie Salvidge (drums / vocals).

    Tracklisting:
    1. Sequence One
    2. Mistake A Stranger
    3. Energy
    4. Last Warmth Of The Day
    5. The Willo
    6. Jolt Awake
    7. Mechanism
    8. Strangulation Day
    9. You Make Me Forget Myself
    10. Charlie's House
    11. Move Through The Dark

    Release Date: 25/01/2019
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  • Part Time 'Spell #6'

    Tough Love Records

    Part Time 'Spell #6'

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    Part Time 'Spell #6'

    £20.49

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    Nearing a decade old and with a discography reaching deep into double figures across several different labels (Mexican Summer, INSERT others), David Loca’s work under the Part Time moniker really shouldn’t require any introduction.

    Nonetheless, the release of what is officially his sixth album, fittingly titled Spell #6, does signal something of a re-birth and provides a compelling entry point for anyone new to Loca’s prolific output. Whereas previous albums were notable for a charming lo-fi production, Spell #6 takes Part Time uptown. "I describe this album as 'my studio album', because it was entirely re-recorded at my drummer Walter Byer's studio, unlike most of my past releases being bedroom experimental pop recordings."

    Loca produced the record himself, impressively appropriating a classic 80s pop sound that recalls some of the more grand productions of that era - think Stephen Street’s expressive production on ‘Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me’, Crowded House and The Church’s widescreen interpolation of Paisley Underground jangle, and there's even traces Gerard McMann’s grandiose ‘Cry Little Sister’. In that sense, the record stands as an outlier in Loca’s catalogue, and in doing so sheds the sometimes limiting trappings of bedroom recording.

    Though it is Loca’s project, Spell #6 sees him joined by a consistent supporting cast of fellow writers and performers who add a poise and deftness to his vision, most notably Ariel Pink, who makes a guest appearance on lead single, ‘I Can Treat You Better’. Reflecting on the song, Loca states, "I decided to take it lyrically to a place as if i were a man noticing an unhappy lady in her relationship and I'm telling her that he isn't good for her."

    A lead single for its obvious earworm qualities, it also functions as an ideal snapshot of the lyrical themes that run through the entire record: romantic gestures and unrequited love, bad decisions on hot nights/hot decisions on bad nights, and unpinning it all, LA. For this is evidently a West Coast record, like a 2018 take on To Live and Die in LA: expansive, grand, and not a little crazy (in love) from the heat.

    Tracklisting:
    1. Before You Fall Apart
    2. Hide
    3. I Can Treat You Better (feat. Ariel Pink)
    4. Shattered Love
    5. So Far Away
    6. Spell #6
    7. The Boys That Make Her Cry
    8. I Didn’t Know
    9. It’s Alright With Me
    10. Silent Franchine (MRF)

    Release Date: 02/11/2018
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  • Value Void 'Sentimental'

    Tough Love Records

    Value Void 'Sentimental'

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    Tough Love Records

    Value Void 'Sentimental'

    £16.99

    London trio Value Void are an offbeat proposition. A sui generis bolt from nowhere, their debut album Sentimental (due out in October on Tough Love) is a collection of luxuriantly deep, shag pile-warm, analogue proto-punk. Paz Maddio and Marta Zabala grew up with each other in Azul, a small town south of Buenos Aires, where the seeds of this project were sown.

    They collaborate in the same way that Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote songs, with Marta penning lyrics then taking them to Paz to spin them in to music. Marta first came to London on tour with the super-slanted art punks Los Cripis, where she met Luke Tristram (of Cop, Score and Owner) who released their record via his Unwork label.

    Paz followed to join them and scrape rent from the city's bars and cafes. By early 2017 the three of them were holed up in practice rooms, Luke adding Evens-esque basslines that laid concrete to their minimalist guitar-lead pop songs.

    Originally as WVS, they started playing shows with bands that had once orbited the tiny Power Lunches venue in Hackney and, since its death, were now to be found on bills at DIY Space, New River Studios and other dusty successors of its autonomous, cheap drink, creative-friendly spirit. In common with bands like Shopping, rudimentary surroundings and resources fed into nonetheless ambitious, hooky work.

    Songs such as 'Teen For Him,' a self-effacing lark importing strains of Leslie Gore and the Velvets; the minimal, Guided by Voices-reminiscent chug of 'Bariloche' and 'Cupids Bow,' an up tempo, Breeders-esque standout, were lynch pins of a pummeling, inspired set. In April of that year, they recorded with Euan Hinshelwood of Young Husband at the studio TVT, in an overlooked corner the other side of Blackheath, tucked under giant knots of flyover on the way to Charlton in South East London. The intention was casual but the results, seven dazzlingly assured songs nailed in a couple of days, sucked attention from several quarters as they skipped between hard drives.

    They secured a tour with Frankie Cosmos and signed to London label Tough Love, who released the single 'Back In The Day' in May 2018. Upon deciding to flesh the songs out for a full length, they returned to TVT studios with Euan in April this year, tweaking the mix and laying down two new songs: 'Mind,' a down tempo lullaby/lament in which the band track into the territory of early St. Vincent, Grouper or Julianna Barwick, supported by a raw dirge that blossoms in feedback, and 'The Deluge,' which is also reflective but structured by a roaming curiosity and big chorus seeking road movie oblivion.

    The album is instantly affecting, with an ease and clarity that suits the elegance of the lyrics: coded love songs and cool reflections on life which are all the more vulnerable and touching sung in Paz Maddio's lilting, ultrachromatic voice - a ceramic-sharp diagonal transatlantic on a pure open tone, with subtle waves of vibrato at its top end. It's a particular heart breaker on tracks such as 'Babeland' and 'Dead Ladies Lament'. Restricted to a palette of drums, bass, guitar and double tracked vocals caught on 2" tape, coloured here and there with a daub of feedback or a passage of ground-shifting tape delay, this is the sort of thing that gets called 'stripped back'.

    It speaks to the powerful understatement at the heart of their style, but it fails to capture the crafty, delicate, taught and spaced-out ride Value Void subject you to: a species of NY proto-punk and Californian post-hardcore born miraculously from London's piss swilling street level like religious icons in toast.

    Tracklisting:
    1.La Trampa
    2.Babeland
    3.Back in the Day
    4.Bariloche
    5.Cupid's Bow
    6. Mind
    7.The Deluge
    8.Teen for Him
    9.Dead Ladies Lament

    Release Date: 26/10/2018
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  • The Stroppies 'Maddest Moments / Architectural Charades' Vinyl 7

    Tough Love Records

    The Stroppies 'Maddest Moments / Architectural Charades' Vinyl 7"

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    The Stroppies return with two new songs. Tracked with Zac Schneider of Totally Mild between Phaedra Studios and a small garden shed, the record sees the band moving away from the limits of the lounge room studio for the first time and into more robust sonic territories. Both songs deal with specific types of urban anxiety.

    The A-side, 'Maddest Moments', espouses a kind of inside-looking-out perspective. Over-stimulated outside, you return home to find you're still stuck.

    The B-side, 'Architectural Charades', is a tribute to ugly buildings and the minds that conceive them. Driving around town and shaking your head. So it goes.

    Regarding the new recordings, the band note that, 'the last two 7's have been a road test of sorts. Expanding (or reducing) the working methodologies, throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks, and trying to get an idea of what might work in terms of production in the future.

    They're not definitive statements, rather little esoteric textures in the narrative of the band to date.'
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  • Autobahn 'Autobahn 1' Vinyl 12

    Tough Love Records

    Autobahn 'Autobahn 1' Vinyl 12"

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    Autobahn 'Autobahn 1' Vinyl 12"

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    Limited to 250 copies.

    Leeds-based five-piece AUTOBAHN announce themselves to the world with their unapologetically sinister and aggressive self-titled debut EP.

    A record for, and of, the night, AUTOBAHN conjure the dystopian nightmare world of 80s post-punk across three unrelenting tracks. Consider them Leeds'very own Lost Boys, cloaked in feedback, showing their teeth.

    Despite forming in February 2013, and playing their first gig just months ago, they appear eerily fully formed. The group - a bunch of unknowns - have notched up word-of-mouth acclaim for their handful of visceral live shows, appearing on stages with the likes of Merchandise and Eagulls.

    While those bands are appropriate touchstones for those new to AUTOBAHN, if you look closer you'll notice in their velvet jackets and puffed shirts a stargazing glamour at odds with their peers. On the surface, AUTOBAHN are a classic modern day punk band. But dig a little deeper and there's a colourful underbelly to their sonic ambitions, vivid like a new bruise.

    Their name's a reference to Kraftwerk, hinting at a European intensity, while tracks like the scabrous Lost Tongue', are transgressive in the same way as early Public Image Limited. What's more, there's real catharsis at the heart of these songs: the opening track, 'Seizure', is about having a small fit in Brighton, while all the lyrics point to a very millennial sense of helplessness.

    AUTOBAHN 1, then, is a bacchanalian trawl through the psyche, kind of unhinged, and staring right through you.

    Tracklisting:
    1. Seizure
    2. Force Fed
    3. Lost Tongue
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  • Holm 'Dappled EP' Vinyl 12

    Tough Love Records

    Holm 'Dappled EP' Vinyl 12"

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    Tough Love Records

    Holm 'Dappled EP' Vinyl 12"

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    Holm is the solo project of Danish multi-instrumentalist Mikkel Holm-Silkjær, and the latest iteration of an impressive musical trajectory that has seen him record and play with Yung, Brooch, Tears, Urban Achievers, and Happy Hookers for Jesus.

    At just 23 and with a discography already in double figures, Holm-Silkjær is nothing if not prolific. Yet his work as Holm might prove to be his most complete. While previous projects were often collaborative, all four songs on Dappled, his debut EP for Tough Love, were written, recorded, performed, and mixed by Holm-Silkjær himself in a shared rehearsal space.

    This resourcefulness has long been characteristic of the music he makes, defined by an overarching DIY ethos that has also seen him champion the music of others through the two record labels he runs (100 and Shordwood, the latter of which also released the first Holm recordings as a 7") and the organisation of numerous live events in both Aarhus and Copenhagen.

    Those familiar with Holm-Silkjær's other music will certainly recognise Dappled as his - that unmistakable metallic vocal, brash chiming guitars, and a preternatural melodic sensibility. Where Dappled differs from previous work, however, is in song structure, most obviously on 'Hope' and 'Grow', the opening and closing tracks respectively.

    Though anchored by recurring motifs (not quite choruses!), these are sprawling and explorative songs, matched by lyrics unusually insightful and clear-sighted for someone so young. Take the neat double-meaning in the repeated coda of 'Grow' for example: "I'm growing, growing, growing, this arrangement, it's not in tune".

    In that line there's a convenient way of understanding what Holm-Silkjær has arrived at with Dappled - a relatable reflection on finding personal identity through his own ever-evolving music. Holm is, after-all, his own name. 


    Tracklisting:
    1. Hope 
    2. Dappled 
    3. Erase and Repeat 
    4. Grow

    Release Date: 04/05/2018
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  • Girls Names 'Stains on Silence' PRE-ORDER - Cargo Records UK

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    Girls Names 'Stains on Silence'

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    Tough Love Records

    Girls Names 'Stains on Silence'

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    It stands to reason that many vital albums come critically close to never being made. The eight-track upshot of doubt, upheaval and financial strain, Stains on Silence by Girls Names is one such release.

    Following 2015's blitzing Arms Around a Vision, and the parting of drummer Gib Cassidy just over a year later, the Belfast band suddenly found themselves facing down a looming void.

    'There was a finished - and then aborted - mix of the album, which was shelved for six months,' reveals Girls Names frontman Cathal Cully. 'We then took a break from all music and went back to full-time work. We chilled out from the stress of rushing the record and not being happy with it, as well as being skint with no impending touring on the cards and constantly having to worry about rent.'

    The stumbling blocks that proved a strain became the album's defining breakthrough.

    Recorded in various locations including Belfast's Start Together Studio with Ben McAuley, Cully's home and the band's practice space, spontaneous creation, cut-up techniques and self-editing took centre-stage for the first time.

    "We started tearing the material apart and rebuilding, re-editing and re-recording different parts in my home in early Autumn last year,' says Cully. 'When we got them to a place we were happier with we went back into Start Together Studio with Ben McAuley to finalise the mixes to what they are now." 

    Where AAAV proved a brazen statement of intent, Stains on Silence bounds forth as its feature-length comedown. What could have seen the band buckle became an opportunity for approaching things tabula rasa. During its two-year transmutation, Cully, bassist Claire Miskimmin and guitarist Philip Quinn had a single aim for their fourth album: to make an old-fashioned record clocking in around 30 to 35 minutes in length that made the listener reach straight for repeat.

    From the Bang Bang bar-summoning swoon of opener '25'and the submerged disco doom of Haus Proud'to the rapt, dub-leaning Fragments of a Portrait', Girls Names have excelled in their goal by forging an LP of synchronous nuance and defiance.

    Marked by the presence of drum machines and programming throughout, these eight masterfully-woven tales are once again commandeered by founder Cully, whose words, understated yet defiant, mine purpose and meaning from the mire ("I want to bathe again, I want to swim again / In a pool of twisting bodies, blackened gold." ' 25').

    But while Stains on Silence came critically close to never being made, having lived with it, reconfigured it, and guided its metamorphosis from flickers of inspiration and half-formed schemes, it's both a statement of pure perseverance, and a head-on confrontation with ambivalence that couldn't be more assured. (Brian Coney March 2018).

    Tracklisting 
    1. 25
    2. Haus Proud
    3. The Process
    4. The Impaled Mystique
    5. Fragments of a Portrait
    6. A Moment and a Year
    7. Stains on Silence
    8. Karoline

    Release Date: 15/06/2018
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  • Girls Names 'Primitive Desire' Vinyl LP - Cargo Records UK

    Tough Love Records

    Girls Names 'Primitive Desire' Vinyl LP Green

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    Tough Love Records

    Girls Names 'Primitive Desire' Vinyl LP Green

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    Primitive Desire is an 11-track collection of the first ever studio sessions by Girls Names, recorded in 2009 in Belfast.

    It compiles their debut EP originally released on Captured Tracks, the eight songs that originally featured on the long-out-of print You Should Know By Now mini-EP released on Tough Love, and a hereto-unreleased bonus track.

    Primitive Desire is exactly as labeled and provides fans with a document of the band's early years as a two-piece, fuelled by a distinct nervous energy and nascent dark edge that would manifest itself much more obviously on subsequent albums.

    Tracklisting:
    Side A:
    1. Blood River
    2.Tear Me Down
    3. Blood Well
    4. Graveyard
    5. I Guess
    6. Warm Hands, Cold Heart

    Side B:
    7. Running Scared
    8. If I...
    9. Oh, Girl!
    10. Don't Let Me In
    11. Don't Let Me Drown
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  • Ulrika Spacek 'Suggestive Listening E.P' Vinyl 12

    Tough Love Records

    Ulrika Spacek 'Suggestive Listening E.P' Vinyl 12"

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    Following the release of two consecutive albums over two consecutive years (2016's 'The Album Paranoia' and last year's 'Modern English Decoration'), Ulrika Spacek release new music in the form of an extended play record titled 'Suggestive Listening'.

    Recorded at both KEN and a rural studio in France, this work reveals experimentation in both a home and studio environment.

    A departure from the band's beloved album format, and perhaps a suggestive insight into future endeavours.

    Tracklisting:
    1. No. 1 Hum
    2. lack Mould
    3. Freudian Slip
    4. Lord Luck
    5. Wave to Paulo, he's not there
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  • Display Homes 'Climate Change' - Cargo Records UK

    Tough Love Records

    Display Homes 'Climate Change' Vinyl 7"

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    Tough Love Records

    Display Homes 'Climate Change' Vinyl 7"

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    (250 Black Vinyl). 

    Display Homes are an Australian three-piece pop band that formed one night in late 2016 at a pool table in Marrickville - Greg and Darrell met Steph, who'd just come back to Sydney from Germany and reckoned she could play drums.

    Their first practice involved an abysmal attempt at a cover of Thin Lizzy's "Dancin in the Moonlight'", and they soon realised Steph clearly hadn't been in a band before and Greg shouldn't sing. Regardless, the connection between them all was obvious, and the songs began to crop up naturally.

    Just a few months after their first trip to the studio, Display Homes'self-titled debut 7" is being released through London-based record label Tough Love Records on [XXX]. The three songs were recorded in April of this year in David Akerman's studio in Marrickville, and just like all great current Australian music, they were later mastered by Mikey Young.

    As far as debuts go, it's effortlessly perfect. In this brief time together, the band have played a host of short and fast shows across Australia, alongside other great locals such as UV Race, Low Life and Orion. Buoyed by the inherent intensity that informs the Sydney DIY music community and a shared love for a wide range of 80s music, Display Homes play discordant pop-orientated post punk with a refreshing lack of self-awareness and lyrical honesty.

    In fact, Steph's autodidactic approach to music means the lyrics were formed into songs somewhat unknowingly. As each song originates from a foolish nature and a tendency to improvise songs in any day-to-day situation, the end result is a set of direct, slightly jarring but infectious pop songs.

    RIYL: The Au Pairs, Pylon, Priests, XTC, Essential Logic, Bush Tetras, Delta 5.

    Tracklisting:
    Side A:
    1. Climate Change

    Side B:
    2. Men
    3. Bist Du Da
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  • The Stroppies 'The Stroppies' - Cargo Records UK

    Tough Love Records

    The Stroppies 'The Stroppies'

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    Tough Love Records

    The Stroppies 'The Stroppies'

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    Starting out as a recording project between Angus Lord, Claudia Serfaty and Stephanie Hughes, the germ of what would eventually become the Stroppies was formed around a kitchen table in Melbourne's inner west early 2016.

    The initial idea was to create open ended music, collaged quickly and haphazardly together on a Tascam 4 track Portastudio that drew on stream of consciousness creativity and a DIY attitude a la Guided By Voices and The Great Unwashed.

    The desire to move beyond the pre programmed drum patterns available on their Casio Keyboard led to the addition of Rory Heane on drums and a more conventional band dynamic. In Late 2016, Alex Macfarlane recorded the band in their lounge room direct to 4 track, capturing 7 songs that would become their 2017 self titled cassette tape debut.

    The songs were bounced back and forth from tape machine to computer to tape machine to computer again. In keeping with the bands initial aesthetic, dubs were laid over a 4 month period incrementally on different devices as members had babies, explored intercontinental love affairs and set up homes together. Since the release of the tape, Adam Hewwit has joined the group on third guitar as they settle down into exploring the new band dynamic and focus on their next recording project.

    The Stroppies is composed of members of many Melbourne and UK bands (Claudia is originally from London) including Dick Diver, Primetime, Possible Humans, White Walls, Boomgates, The Stevens, See/Saw to name a few.

    They make modest, idiosyncratic pop songs that reward with repeated listening.

    Tracklisting:
    1. Gravity Is Stern
    2. Go Ahead
    3. No Joke
    4. Under Your Sweater
    5. Courtesy Calls
    6. Celebration Day
    7. All The Lines

    Release Date: 27/10/2017
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  • David West with Teardrops 'Cherry On Willow' - Cargo Records UK

    Tough Love Records

    David West with Teardrops 'Cherry On Willow'

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    Tough Love Records

    David West with Teardrops 'Cherry On Willow'

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    David West is a musical artist from Western Australia based in New York City. He's been active in the shifting sands of underground pop for over a decade. Not dissimilar to the main character in Star Wars, his musical career began in a backwater desert village, in this case, Perth, before he migrated to more glittering metropolises like San Francisco and Melbourne, and finally landing in his current home of New York.

    He presently plays in the contemporary outfits Rat Columns, Rank/Xerox and Liberation. In the past he has participated in such groups as Lace Curtain, Burning Sensation and Total Control. DW began releasing eponymous platters in 2015 with the Night People/Happy Endin' full-length cassette Drop Out Of Collage.

    This was followed in 2016 by the Peace Or Love LP which featured the radio semi-hit Dream On Dreamer'. DW's move into the "own-name" category of artists came as his other bands began to develop defined identities. He felt that recording under his own name would be an excellent umbrella for both roving experimentation and a more frivolous, post-modern style of pop music that would not fit in the frameworks of his other projects. Also, after crafting band names for over a decade, it was just time.

    Cherry On Willow is DW's audio pop vision for 2017. It differs from the last two DW releases by introducing a more collaborative framework, creating the backing group Teardrops - an open ensemble of friends and collaborators, including Bob Jones of Eaters, Louis Hooper of Rat Columns, Mikey Young of Total Control and Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Raven Mahon of Grass Widow, dynamite drummer Griffin Harrison and other supremely talented individuals from the past and future.

    The recordings were quite live and spontaneous, hoping to catch some of the magic involved in speed and improvisation, harvesting creative sparks from his musical colleagues and himself.

    The album was recorded in various places in the latter half of 2016 - by DW in his practice space in New York City; in a rental rehearsal room in Glasgow; and a garage studio in Guildford, Western Australia, where Rat Columns' recent LP Candle Power was also recorded. Cherry On Willow was recorded quickly and with a 'first thought best thought' philosophy, to capture an old-school pop feeling, with rough edges intact, human movements tracked and uncut. Swiping liberally from various strains of underground pop, glam, rock'n'roll, synth-pop and disco.

    RIYL: Felt, The Wake, Orange Juice, The Pastels, Feelies, Belle and Sebastian, Rat Columns.

    Tracklisting:
    1. Morning Rain
    2. Cherry On Willow
    3. Joy
    4. Love Comes On
    5. Time To Forget
    6. Reds For The Blues
    7. Soft
    8. Swan's Beat
    9. Call Me Sometime

    Release Date: 20/10/2017
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  • Autobahn 'The Moral Crossing' - Cargo Records UK

    Tough Love Records

    Autobahn 'The Moral Crossing'

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    Autobahn 'The Moral Crossing'

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    'Melancholy and darkness, and dissonant, uncomfortable music, resonates with us, for whatever reason,' says singer and spokesman Craig Johnson. 'The new record is more melancholy than dissonant. I feel we're just opening up a bit more on this record.'
     
    A sliver of strings, a squeal of feedback, pulsing drums, sheets of steely guitar and sonorous bass, and a rough, declamatory voice - from these primary components, Leeds quintet AUTOBAHN unfurl their second album, The Moral Crossing, which adds more finesse, dynamic and colour to the commitment and energy shown on their 2014 debut Dissemble - an album that Louder Than War described as, 'driving, powerful and passionate - ¦ tapping into addictive darkness of our past and reminding us that that we cannot escape its attractive desolation.'
     
    While Dissemble was made by imagining what the late, great producer Martin Hannett would do, The Moral Crossing is the sound of what AUTOBAHN would do. To capture the new sonic details of the band, lead singer and principal songwriter Craig Johnson, guitarists Michael Pedel and Gavin Cobb, bassist Daniel Sleight and drummer Liam Hilton decided to give up their practice room that doubled as a hardcore/punk venue (which influenced their original sound, as did a love of The Birthday Party) and build their own studio space.
     
    They found a former double-glazing firm, under a disused bridge, in Holbeck (Leeds'red light district), and despite having no experience of such a job, they undertook this feat. It took a year from ripping out the existing contents to finishing the album - which was then mixed in New York by Ben Greenberg, known for his work with the Sacred Bones label.
     
    On top, Johnson taught himself how to make a record after the studio was built. 'I was down there nearly every night,' Johnson recalls. 'It was pretty horrible at times, but worth the pain to have control over everything. We've had the chance to create the sound we want, at times it's more melancholic, and romantic.'
     
    Part of the shift comes from Johnson's newly honed melodies such as Vessel'and Torment', part from a greater use of electronics, such as the synthesiser underpinning a haunting Future', evoking neon-lit rainy-nocturnal rides through a cityscape, likewise the album's title track, which is one song to benefit from the judicious addition of violin and cello. '!'d been listening to classical music, and I'd seen the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra doing Beethoven's Ninth, which was mint, but I felt out of place, that people were looking down at me,' Johnson recalls. 'So, it's good to bring some of that to the record. A couple of tracks, Torment'was one, we ended up replacing the guitars with strings - whatever was best for the song. Like the French female voice in Torment'too, it just felt right.'
     
     
    This time around, AUTOBAHN decided to create their fearsome depth charges by building the tracks as they went along rather than working on completed songs. As a name, AUTOBAHN has been a bit misleading, as they sound quintessentially Leeds, not Munich or Dusseldorf, but Johnson chose the name because he loved the repetition of rhythm. With Hilton - surely one of the best young drummers alive - driving, Johnson requested they all, 'imagine they were all different part of a machine: a steam engine, say. Again, it just felt right. And then we put it all together. The lyrics came right at the end.'
     
    Johnson's lyrics on The Moral Crossing combine to form a whole: the theme of a birth, 'but that person had no choice in the decision. And then it's about the different outcomes that could happen. Which could be glorious or torturous.'
     
    The words and songtitles suggest more torture than glory - for example, 'A selfless crucifixion / You've nailed in the hard sell' in the manic Obituary': 'Pain out of control' in Torment': 'With your withered hand / Drag me deeper into the fallen ground' in the escalating drama of Fallen'- a word, alongside 'fall', that crops up in several songs. Though Johnson points out that another line from 'Fallen', 'Give a break to that child in the noose' is an example of AUTOBAHN's, 'dark northern humour' (another example was the billboard ad for Dissemble: a hearse, parked outside a funeral parlour, with the band's name in flowers, next to a group of kids holding balloons - ¦)
     
    And though Johnson admits to sudden negative episodes (documented by Low/High', another slowburner that eventually bursts into flames), 'they don't last long. Actually, as a band, we're more optimists. I don't find talking about this stuff as dark', but it's stuff people don't usually want to talk about - execution, rising from the dead, depression, feeling utterly lost and unsure where to go. To understand the moral crossing, to go one way or the other, and how it can change your life. For me, saying this stuff out loud give the feeling that there's a future.'
     

    On Low/High', Johnson sings, 'You're floating higher now / No more discontent' and in the part-spoken word litany that is Creation', 'I want to be there for you / I want to rise on through.' To reinforce the optimistic feeling, gospel singers from the local church sing on both tracks. 'I wouldn't call it holy'but some of the lyrics they were singing were about going to a higher place, even if the whole lyric might contradict that,' says Johnson.
     
    AUTOBAHN have checked their own moral compass, and chosen the hard way - not just building their own studio, but to keep confronting the dark stuff. But their music is infused with the joy of exorcising the darkness: to be there, and rise on through. There is a future, and AUTOBAHN and The Moral Crossing are very much part of it.
     
    Martin Aston, August 2017

    Tracklisting :
    1. Prologue
    2. Obituary
    3. Future
    4. The Moral Crossing
    5. Torment
    6. Low/High
    7. Execution/Rise
    8. Creation
    9. Fallen
    10. Vessel

    Release Date: 03/11/2017
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  • CYMBALS 'Light In Your Mind' - Cargo Records UK

    Tough Love Records

    CYMBALS 'Light In Your Mind'

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    CYMBALS 'Light In Your Mind'

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    "Guitar-flecked electro at its most hypnotic and sublime" Sunday Times

    'Unfettered adrenalin rush' MOJO (4/5)

    'Fun with a capital F', but there are moments of gravitas too. Not easy to do that' NME (8/10)

    Light in Your Mind is the first new material from CYMBALS in 2 years, and their first album since 2014. If the wait seems long for the listener, for those involved in its creation the time in between pulls in a lifetime of unexpected experiences. That Light In Your Mind even exists is a testament to not giving in.

    Since their inception, CYMBALS line up has been subject to a great deal of change. Amidst that change there has always existed the songwriting duo of Jack Cleverly and Dan Simons, who formed the band in 2011 with the sole intention of 'having fun'.

    A noble aspiration, but one that became increasingly hard to realize when the realities of a 9-5 existence started to corrosively rub against the expectations of being in a band that wanted to tour the world. At various points over the last 6 years and across 3 albums, a rotating cast of at least 10 other people have formed some version of CYMBALS.

    More still have contributed to Light In Your Mind - Justin Goings and Josh Hefferman both provide drums, while Alabaster DePlume plays saxophone on Fully Automated Luxury'. Producer Kristian Robinson (Capitol K) is a major presence across the album and played a key role in guiding the transition from the band's sound on their previous record to this one.

    The music itself possesses a sedimentary quality, a residue of each contributing member compressed into what it is that band have become. Consistent throughout has been the relationship between Cleverly and Simons. Failing relationships, betrayal, addiction, illness: the emotional challenges were huge.

    Thankfully, they were not insurmountable. Second track Car Crash'addresses that period head-on, a typically effervescent synth line from Simons disguising lyrical content that traverses that fine line between blind arrogance and tortured self-loathing. Like all the best CYMBALS songs, it deals in unexpected contrasts.

    Much the same can be said of the structure of the album as a whole, eclectically comprised of melodically memorable pop songs ('Car Crash', 'Talk To Me'), bucolic instrumentals ('My Body', 'Numbers') and longer, pensive songs that explore the space in between ('ASMR', 'I Thought I Knew You'). As final track Lifetime Achievement Award'concludes, a synth loop first heard on the opening track is subtly re-introduced, completing a circle of sorts.

    Tracklisting:
    1. Decay
    2. Car Crash
    3. Talk To Me
    4. I Thought I Knew You
    5. My Body (Winter Mix)
    6. Where Nothing Can Be Defined
    7. Splitting
    8. Euphoric Recall
    9. ASMR
    10. Fully Automated Luxury
    11. Lifetime Achievement Award
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