Between albums, some bands stick to what they know, don’t grow or change at all and put out much the same record the next time around. There’s an obvious fear of alienating fans at play, and frankly nobody needs to hear their favourite emo act go calypso.
It’s something that has clearly crossed the minds of North Atlantic Oscillation. Their last album, ‘Fog Electric‘, was a joyous pleasure, a blast of measured euphoria and harmony that was well received by anyone with half an ounce of sense. Next up is ‘The Third Day‘, and though the band have progressed in the interim, we wouldn’t be that far off nicknaming it ‘Fog Electric 2.5’. In this case, that’s no bad thing.
It kicks off with an interesting fade-in to opener ‘Great Plains II‘, on which vocalist Sam Healy does a terrifying impression of the voice of Phil Collins before the music crashes in and the brain is shaken out of the horrific reverie that induces.
Aside from that initial burst of fear it’s a fine track to open a record, bettered immediately by ‘Elsewhere‘, complete with unlikely water effects in the background. It’s faintly trippy, though truth be told that could be my fraught mind recalling the time I took magic mushrooms and decided to pour a bottle of water over my head in my flat, because it seemed like that’s what the universe, with which I was at one, wanted me to do.
There is a degree of psychedelia about this record, much as there was about the first. At times, as on ‘August‘, it can get a little manic and that track is the only one of ten I can’t seem to get to grips with. Quite the opposite can be said of ‘Penrose‘, which is bloody superb for reasons I can’t quite express in words, fittingly as it’s an instrumental.
The strongest criticism is of closing track ‘When To Stop‘. It’s superb and it doesn’t go on nearly long enough, you bastards.
North Atlantic Oscillation have produced another album that will stay on the metaphorical turntable for some weeks to come. That it has emerged just a short while after the underwhelming reappearance of the band they most closely resemble, Engineers, is a result for fans of sweeping epics, tricky time signatures and harmonies that can make you wide-eyed with wonder. All in all, not a bad Third Day’s work.
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