11 March 2013
by Tom Gibbons
A couple of years ago Amplifier’s The Octopus double-album shifted a fair few copies and filled venues, largely because it was a great rock record, and Amplifier retain their refined, grandiose sound for Echo Street.
Aside from the polished production, the Manchester group’s latest album bears little resemblance to its predecessor, and lacks its inventive song-writing and dynamic drive. The band admits rushing Echo Street out in 60 days from start to finish (compare that to the four-year production of The Octopus) and light-weight compositions, flimsy chord structures and slightly dull lyrics are just part of the problem. The overly long tracks and lack of variety between them (slow-mid paced, uninteresting chord sequences for seven minutes) is a struggle to get through, and it’s curious to know why a band capable of writing such epic prog rock would water down their material to such a dreary, sleep-inducing level.
Opener ‘Matmos’ has a fairly catchy Jane’s Addiction chorus, but at 8:12, like the rest of Echo Street, is just not that interesting to listen to. While it’s difficult to distinguish a standout track, or even a culprit, the album production does sound great, yet sadly it cannot salvage this frankly boring album. Perhaps the band’s new lineup is a factor, or maybe the shift in standards could be largely due to the time, or lack thereof, invested in writing, and if so one might question why compositional quality would be compromised by time. Only Amplifier know, and they’re touring the UK in March, so go check the new songs out at a show, and pick up a copy of The Octopus from the merch store on your way out.
Sounds like: Amplifier, but less
Top tracks: … Matmos?