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Aqualung - Memory Man

Aqualung, Memory Man

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

MATT Hales has long been the creator of richly layered, deeply heartfelt and beautifully epic songs such as Strange & Beautiful (I’ll Put A Spell On You) and Brighter Than Sunshine.

With Memory Man, his latest long-player, he repeats the trick to deliver an album of exhilarating highs, pensive slow-burners and enough songs to sweep any fan of Coldplay, Snow Patrol or U2 off their feet (at different times).

Whether dripping his music in melancholy piano chords, or explosively bringing tracks to life with loud bursts of drums and guitars, Hales seems to have the knack for capturing your imagination and whisking you off on some enchanting musical journeys.

Take opening track and former single Cinderella as a prime example. The song sets things in motion with some fragile electronics, before delivering a headrush of excitement courtesy of some sparkling guitar loops. Then, almost as quickly, he strips things back down to place his haunted, almost whispered vocals centre stage.

And as he warns “be careful what you hope and you pray for”, the song drops some angelic background vocals to lend it an even greater ethereal quality, before building once more to another euphoric guitar high. Its cinematic in scope, and absolutely thrilling in delivery.

Second track Pressure Suit weaves a similarly magical spell, beginning with some lush atmospherics and then unfolding into an utterly beguiling love song.

The pianos play wonderfully with the low-key beats, as Hales drifts in and out of a heartfelt falsetto with lyrics including “I’ll be your respirator, I’ll be your pressure suit, it’s alright!” It’s during such moments that the Coldplay brigade ought to swoon.

Elsewhere, Memory Man throws in just as many treats. Something To Believe In is another that combines some tender sentiment with the skyscraping, stadium-sweeping style of U2 and Snow Patrol.

Vapour Trail melts the hardest heart with its warm glow, Rolls So Deep delivers an emphatic chorus complete with thumping back beat and clever glockenspiel, The Lake seduces with its heartfelt sincerity and oh-so tender piano loops, and Outside sweeps you along with its rich melodies and scatter-drum beats.

Come final track Broken Bones, with its mounting sense of hope and epic sense of style, you’ll be begging for more, just as Hales pleads for a little more time with you. It’s that good, ensuring that Memory Man stays with you long after the final note has been delivered.

Download picks: Cinderella, Pressure Suit, Rolls So Deep, The Lake, Something To Believe In, Broken Bones

Track listing:

  1. Cinderella
  2. Pressure Suit
  3. Something To Believe In
  4. Glimmer
  5. Vapour Trail
  6. Rolls So Deep
  7. The Lake
  8. Black Hole
  9. Outside
  10. Garden Of Love
  11. Broken Bones