Modern Studies have knack for creating haunting, doomed landscapes that retain a sense of beauty, with lo-fi and dated instrumentation. If you ever wanted to watch The Wicker Man, mute the final damning scene and play something above it, then nothing would be more fitting then Swell to Great.
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Modern Studies take a while to get going but that is the folk tradition. We must be patient and not rush them. These people have cellos to tune. It takes ages.
Opener 'Supercool' is based around a circling revolving type 'riff' made out of wheezed harmonium and some churning cellos. The track builds in intensity but even at it's peak is about as intense as an Angel Delight- lite but it lulls you into it's circling and the next thing you know you are playing a squeezebox in sympathy. These people play pleasant folk with rich harmonies that evoke times past and combine traditional instrumentation with a more modern day type of song structure. There's the whiff of folk collective about them and I didn't have to google them to be confident that they would be wearing matching outfits.
At times I want Modern Studies to get nastier, the record is so polite at times that you start to wonder what it's agenda is. I want to grab them and ask if they can sing songs like 'The Bold Fisherman' with a bit more gusto but their subtlety pays off on the Clannad-like 'Today's Regrets' which showcases Emily Scott's Jacqui McShee like vocals. 'Divebombing' is particularly watery with glistening guitar twirls and a wandering structure. But the fact that they are so nice is making me sort of angry which I know is totally unfair.
In this current horror world of awfulness it's nice that someone is sounding nice.
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