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Thirteen Senses – Crystal Sounds

Thirteen Senses, Crystal Sounds

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

WE LIKED Thirteen Senses a lot back in the day, when they were being hailed as the next Coldplay and when tracks like Thru The Glass and Into The Fire catapulted them onto the soundtracks of US TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and ER.

We’ve not heard much from them since, so the prospect of a new album, Crystal Sounds, off the back of a stirring comeback single, The Loneliest Star, was an appetising one. And they don’t disappoint.

The LP may lack an instantly killer track (like Thru The Glass) but it’s a strong collection of songs that display a fine knack for song-writing, a keen ear for melody and a slow build mentality that gives rise to a satisfying sense of the epic.

Will South’s vocals continue to provide a soothing accompaniment and make good use of his falsetto at several points, while the band’s fondness for instrumentals also gives rise to some fantastic arrangements, none more so than during the closing moments of Out There, which veer towards the cinematic.

Similarly, opening effort Crystal Sounds thrives on some almost heavenly harmonising and a combination of piano and string arrangements that lend it a beauty that’s quite striking. South, meanwhile, almost sounds bittersweet in his delivery.

You could argue that extending an opening track to almost six minutes borders on the indulgent and fails to give the album an instant, catchy punch – but in Thirteen Senses’ case it seems to work and lays the template for what follows, especially given the extended instrumental outro that accompanies it.

But former single The Loneliest Star does at least show they can mix it up a bit and veer towards the radio friendly… a snappy beat, infectious hook and sweeping chorus combining to create what proved to be an effective comeback offering from them.

Elsewhere, Home endears itself with a tale of an epic journey, wrapped in lush and (dare we say) Coldplay-esqye riffs, not to mention nice shifts in tempo, and Imagine Life employs a foot-stomping mix of drums, guitars and pianos to sound Doves-esque instrumentally and Keane-esque vocally.

The guitar work on Suddenly is strong, too, thereby providing the backdrop to a song about being swept off your feet in nice fashion (it’s a favourite), while pianos take centre-stage on the tender, bittersweet Animals, which again provide a wonderful showcase for South’s falsetto vocal.

I also liked After The Retreat, which cleverly displays the band’s way with words, Out There with its slow build approach and majestic finale, and the lush acoustics of the dusky Send Myself To Sleep, which contained a warm, almost Jack Johnson campfire glow.

In truth, though, Thirteen Senses don’t do a great deal wrong on this album. And the overall result, while still lacking that one killer track, adds up to a deeply satisfying whole and a very welcome return.

Download picks: The Loneliest Star, Suddenly, Out There, Send Myself To Sleep, Home

Track listing:

  1. Crystal Sounds
  2. The Loneliest Star
  3. Home
  4. Imagine Life
  5. Suddenly
  6. Animals
  7. After The Retreat
  8. I Saw Stars Disappear
  9. Answer
  10. Out There
  11. Send Myself To Sleep
  12. Concept
  13. In The Crowding