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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Track-by-Track: The Sound Of Arrows - Voyage

It's difficult to review this album on a track-by-track basis, because more than any other recent release that I can remember, this is a collection of songs meant to be experienced together. As the album's title expresses, this is a voyage... and one hell of a fantastic one at that. Expectations were high after a string of amazing singles, but these guys have done the increasingly impossible task of creating a perfect, modern pop album. I can't stop listening to it.

1. Into The Clouds - What more can be said about this? Amazing. One of the best pop songs of the last few years. I love the new, dramatic synth opening. It's absolutely majestic. This track alone will get you hooked on the band. 10/10

2. Wonders - This was a "9" until I heard it in the context of the album. A few days ago, I really had my "moment" with the song. It's a massive dance track and one of the more uptempo songs on here. It flows perfectly from the last one. The drums are especially huge. 10/10

3. My Shadow - Compared to some other tracks, this is pretty straightforward and radio friendly. It's very reminiscent of 80's era Pet Shop Boys. This is a very good thing... even better than I would have thought. The instrumental alone is gorgeous. 10/10

4. Magic - An irresistibly feel-good single. The music video made me fall in love with it, but after several months with the new single mix, I haven't gotten tired of it. I love the use of the children's choir. 10/10

5. Ruins Of Rome - A natural progression from the last track, this also utilizes the children's choir... but to very different effect. This has a darker, more plodding feel to it. It's by no means a bad thing. It's got a real cinematic grandeur to it. While not as instant as the past four tracks, I'm now thoroughly addicted. So, yes, it's another 10/10

6. Longest Ever Dream - I think I like the instrumental portion of this better than the vocals. It's still extremely strong (and I love the operatic bits), but I wish they would have reserved the female vocal parts for background only. That would've made it perfect. As it is, the verses fall just a little short. 9/10

7. Hurting All The Way - My least favorite track, but that's not saying a lot because the entire album is brilliant. It's more of a short palate cleanser than a full song. In that regard, it totally works. It's just quite slow and doesn't really go anywhere. 8/10

8. Conquest - Back to straightforward pop. Of course, nothing's quite straightforward with these guys. This has a slight island flavor (which strangely works), and a funky beat with one of the album's catchiest choruses. 9/10

9. Nova - The second single, and probably the most aggressive sounding track on the album. I've loved this song from the beginning, and it's no different here. Once that beat kicks in, it's pretty epic. 10/10

10. There Is Still Hope - Speaking of epic... oh my god. This is the longest track on the album, but it earns every single minute. Starting with a dramatic synth intro before bursting into an anthemic, triumphant melody, this is rousing, life-affirming stuff. Essential. 10/10

11. Lost City - In a lot of ways, this acts as the ending credits to a great journey. I'm not usually a big fan of instrumentals, but this is flawless. The vocals at the end are just icing on the cake. 10/10

* Though I won't count them in the album's grade, some versions come with two bonus tracks. It's worth highlighting "Disappear," which is a wonderfully uptempo pop track that's actually one of their stronger recordings.

Album Grade: 9.6/10



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