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Wow, El Heath has really upped his game on this latest offering. The Epic 45 lad has previously churned out some thoroughly charming pastoral psych-pop under his own name, but this new album seem an altogether more ambitious. With a wide cast of friends assisting him, the Shropshire-based songwriter has put together a collection of warm widescreen Welsh-language pop.
The press release makes lofty claims, saying the album “draws on the pioneering space symphonies of Joe Meek, fusing them with the low season tranquillity of Gorkys Zygotic Mynci”. In the majority of cases such a boast is surely a prelude to disappointment, but here it seems quite an astute assessment. E.L. does get experimental in places, making ambitious and highly melodic arrangements which maintain a kind of tension and unease.
Despite this dark edge, the songs are dense and uplifting with sweeping strings and puttering drums pushing Heath’s cautious vocals into more uplifting territory than they’re used to occupying, and while it’s quite varied there’s a narrative flow and earthy warmth which reminds me of the recent Magnetic North LP. I don’t know if it’s just because he’s singing in Welsh but it reminds me of Gruff Rhys in places too, particularly the grandiose psych-pop swirl of ‘Bendigedig’. Despite not understanding a word he’s singing I’m finding this album very engaging.
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