Guillemots - Through The Window Pane
Review by Jack Foley
FANS of epic, ambitious songwriting may wish to flock to the stunning new album from Guillemots, Through The Window Pane which emerges off the back of singles such as Made Up Love Song #43 as one of the most beautiful and romantic records of the year.
Predominantly written by lead singer, Fyfe Dangerfield, but featuring three songs written collectively by the band as a whole (Come Away With Me, And If All and Sao Paulo), the album offers just under an hour of musical gems that just keep getting better the more you hear them.
Evidence of the confidence Dangerfield clearly has in his ability is apparent from the outset, on Little Bear, a brooding effort that boasts a full symphony orchestra.
Yet everything about Through The Window Pane suggests a willingness to be different, expansive and constantly evolving.
Hence, the album includes the playful Casio kingergarten drum ‘n’ bass of the title track, the desolate phantom guitars of If The World Ends and the traffic jam samba and Casablanca-meets-Vertigo strings of Sao Paolo.
Did we also mention that it’s likely to offer one of the most romantic listens of the year? Not soppily so, but rather achingly poignant thanks to Dangerfield’s ability to mix insecurity with hope and happiness.
Take Made Up Love Song #43 for instance – a familiar starting point. Its opening line states “I love you through sparks and shining dragons, I do”, all conveyed with an innocent sincerity that makes it so distinctive and so honest.
Once the Bloc Party-style guitars kick in with a drum ‘n’ bass percussion, you’re smitten.
Anyone expecting a repeat of that successful formula has under-estimated the scope of the band, however, given that the 12 tracks on the LP seldom emulate each other and range from one minute and 21 seconds in length to an epic, almost operatic 11mins and 37 seconds (final track, Sao Paolo).
Along the way, there’s plenty to savour such as former single, Trains To Brazil with its mighty drums and lavish production values, or the stripped-down and deeply atmospheric Redwings with its emphatic chorus of “you know I love you”. It’s a slow-burner that demands your utmost attention in order to deliver all that it has to offer, as well as featuring some guest harmony vocals from another of the artists-of-the-moment, Joan As Police Woman.
There’s an aching irresistibility to the pensive If The World Ends that would give Keane a run for their money, while hinting at the epic values of Queen’s Who Wants To Live Forever during its opening moments.
We’re Here, meanwhile, provides a much more upbeat vibe that contains a vocal reminiscent that continually reminds me of James at their most ambitious. It’s another lovely record – typically layered with pianos, strings and brooding drums that unfolds over the space of five lovely minutes – the expansive chorus is an absolute delight.
Similarly rich in melody is the sublime Annie, Let’s Not Wait, another upbeat delight that eases the album towards it’s epic finale, Sao Paolo and its wildly excessive but consistently inventive cinematic sweep.
If you haven’t been moved by at least half of what Through The Window Pane has to offer, then you’re obviously in the midst of a deep, dark depression. Guillemots have delivered an epic, lyrically poetic and downright thrilling album that juxtaposes moments of great joy with intimate poignancy.
Some may find it a little over-ambitious but that’s merely part of the allure – this is an album about love that’s damn near impossible not to become seduced by – right down to its finale of chiming church bells. Go buy it.