ENGINEERS – Three Fact Fader (Kscope)

Engineers are a new band to me, although they have been around for a while and this is their second release. Their debut appeared in 2005, and after their label Echo went bust little has been heard of them since. However, they were not disheartened and revisited the songs that they had written over the past four years to update them for this album. Add in the fact that all four members had spent that time familiarising themselves with studio techniques, and what you have is an accomplished and creative record. The influence of their heroes Eno and Kevin Shields are noticeable throughout this album, none more so than on opening track ‘Clean Coloured Wire’, with its droning guitars underpinning a repetitive guitar figure, and vocals that echo MBV at their peak. It is based around a sample of the track ‘Watussi’ from Krautrockers Harmonia’s classic 1973 LP, and Krautrock is an influence that makes itself apparent in other tracks as well. The guitars are more to the fore on ‘Sometimes I Realise’, and they way they break through on the chorus brings to mind classic shoegazer bands such as Chapterhouse and Catherine Wheel. With lyrics based on Sweden’s hard drug problem set to music written while Mark Peters was sheltering in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombs, you could forgive ‘International Dirge’ for sounding a bit gloomy, but it does so in a sort of Joy Division way, without being at all depressing. ‘Helped By Science’ features the Knife Edge String Quartet on an atmospheric ballad, and ‘Brighter As We Fall’ is the simplest song on here, with just the three instruments and one vocal on a tender love song, but even here they end it with a maelstrom of guitar noise. ‘Hang Your Head’ was written for a New York tour, and was supposed to echo the sound of the Velvet Underground, but comes across as a Germanic MBV. The title track is loosely inspired by an experimental album from Ornette Colman, but that doesn’t mean that it is jazz, as it was just the idea that was used and not the music. Musically we are back with the massed guitars and echoed vocals, but the prominent bass gives it some substance, and it is a fine track. ‘Emergency Room’ was written after the drummer’s girlfriend was rushed to hospital, and really evokes the urgency of the ambulance rushing through traffic, and the guitar overload swamping the chanted Floydian vocals of ‘The Fear Has Gone’ make it a stand-out track. They close the album with ‘What Pushed Us Together’, which they describe as their ‘electro Motown’ track, although to me the rippling keyboards under the echo-laden drums give it something of a Muse feel. So, with their influences worn unashamedly on their sleeves, Engineers have still managed to produce a stunning album, which even on first hearing I knew had something about it that would draw me back to it again and again.
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