Villareal is a Brighton, UK based band that recently released a hauntingly subdued album called “Unravelling.” The album contains 11 songs and the sequencing is some of the best I have heard. With bands releasing more and more EP’s and almost everyone streaming their music the craft of putting together an album with a beginning and end is waning. This is an album you can hit play and then sit back and enjoy. Don’t skip tracks – just listen. There are a number of great things about this album but the horns and orchestral strings are excellent. They mention Talk Talk on their Bandcamp page and when I heard the horns on this album it sometimes reminded of the horns I heard on Laughing Stock. Of course without the actual songs this wouldn't matter at all and they have no problem in that department either.
The first song on the album “Orange Host” is possibly the eeriest on the album. It opens with subtle horns and a foggy club-like ambience that is accompanied by a simple yet sad piano part. As the song progresses parts are added and the instruments create a concoction of haunting beauty, which I was quite fond of. While the song was powerful in its own way it also served as a good introduction to some of the meatier songs ahead.
“New Miracles” is a solid song and I enjoyed the creative decisions they made behind the board as well. The drums are dry, low in the mix and a lot of the dynamic range is achieved through the guitars. When the chorus hits it sounds huge and not because of the drums but because of the way the guitars are mixed with the lush arrangement. “Bodies In The Water” is a gypsy/Tom Waits type sounding song that mixes in horns, percussive beat boxing and organ to create the most festive vibe on the album thus far.
“Low Cloud Revisits” opens with horns and I would have been fine with that for the four minutes the track lasts. The song instead opts to launch into a great melancholy song that has just the right amount of optimistic energy to deliver one of the highlights on the album. The strings on “Sirens” are just gorgeous as Simon Parker sings over them. Not much else to say about this one except it has one of the most interesting breakdowns halfway through. At around the three-minute mark the song quickly fades and you hear the sound of rain and various eerie elements before a just as eerie organ enters. They somehow find their way to a hopeful upsurge of strings before the song ends. I thought I might have had their sound figured out before I heard the chaotic white noise and sludge that only lasts about ten seconds on “Keys To The Back Of My Mind” but it is quite the intro for a quiet song that is pretty mellow overall. The horns cry on “Last Of The Pale Winter Sun” while “Summer is Dreaming” delves into avant-garde experimental ambience.
Unravelling is an exceptional album from front to back with little to criticize. The album is accessible yet isn't afraid to test some boundaries while taking on a sonic journey.
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