I’ve been listening to the post-rock/math rock band And So I Watch You From Afar lately. It’s a band I’ve recognized on the Internet because of their lengthy and intriguing name, and a band I’ve been recommended numerously through iTunes and Last.fm. I admit that I hadn’t heard any of their albums before picking up their recent album “Heirs,” so some research was necessary. Another band featured on this site from the label Sargent House, I discovered the chaotic song structures, heavily overdriven sound, and instrumental nature from their prior albums. Upon my first listen of their newest album “Heirs,” I couldn’t help but reminisce on what they released previously, thinking of that classic line from the movie “This Is Spinal Tap”: these guys turn it up to eleven.
For being a ten track album lasting just over forty minutes, I cannot help feeling like ASIWYFA gave it everything they got, and some. Consisting of Rory Friers and Niall Kennedy on guitar, Jonathan Adger on bass guitar, and Chris Wee on drums, this band from Belfast, UK pours their heart out with easily one of the most bombastic albums I’ve heard this year. With nearly every song containing outright loud and frenetic compositions, I could not help feeling I was a part of an energetic live show while sitting on my couch. With the incorporation of vocals in many of the songs, I enjoyed the conducting it forces on the listener, dictating every high and low. I can only imagine a jubilant audience dancing and singing to every track in a live setting.
When listening to “Heirs,” though, I can’t help but feel it would serve the band better to dial it down a notch. As energetic and exciting as the album would be in a live setting, I feel stressed out from the comfort of my couch. Beginning with “Run Home,” the guitars chime in from the start with dual repetitious arrangements, while some sound manipulated doodling takes up a great deal of the song’s bridge section. Unfortunately, most of the songs on this album follow this same pattern, and depending on the song will include some loud, chanting choruses from all the members of the band. As interesting as the album comes across, I cannot help but make the comparison of bands like Tera Melos and Explosions in the Sky. Their music honestly sounds like a collaboration between these two bands, instrumental in nature, and over-the-top in structure. Utilizing the same tricks of the trade in most post-rock/math rock bands, including the reliance on atmospheric, reverb textures, it would be hard for me to tell the difference if played blindly before me.
I believe ASIWYFA does excel in their final two songs, though, being the title track “Heirs” and “Tryer, You.” The much smoother and softer “Heirs” is the first real break given to the listener. Treated with delayed, clean guitar rhythms, technical drum beats, complementary bass lines, and numerous sections of quiet, negative space, I enjoyed the slower nature of the song. But the whole song isn’t slow, picking up halfway through with a sudden and dramatic climb. The entire song contains immaculately performed rises and falls, elevating and suppressing the emotions of the listener. The final song “Tryer, You” comes across as more post-rock than anything else, something I would suspect to be played in the soundtrack to “Friday Night Lights.” With more slower paced drums filled with effect-driven guitars, the song contains some of the finest orchestrations on the entire album.
Overall, And So I Watch You From Afar’s “Heirs” is a great listen at a party-like setting, but may be too much for a listener trying to relax after a long day at work. The unified theme of chaos is entertaining, but doesn’t have a lasting enough impression on me minutes or hours after playing it. I would still recommend to you all to check out this album, especially if you’re in the mood to shake up your day. Please support this band by checking out their Bandcamp page, or by following them on Facebook and Twitter. They are currently touring North America, so this is your chance to listen to them in a setting that their music was intended.
I will be seeing them live this Saturday in San Diego, so I am excited to share with you all my experiences. I have a feeling the environment I listen to them in will drastically change my perspective of their music. Stay tuned!