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Syd Arthur @ The Mash House

Updated: Feb 26, 2019

16 November 2017

Bathed in a neon bloom, and smothered by a thick, lingering haze Syd Arthur take to the stage at The Mash House in Edinburgh with a laconic guise.

Published in Crash

The four gents are tooled up to boot with a myriad of instruments and electronic implements, and like the best of travelling salesmen, they batter, bruise, and abuse their wares from the outset, showcasing their mighty dexterity. Ode To the Summer gives the first sighting of the band’s ability to get the audience’s feet tapping and heads nodding. Its sprawling duration, fit with bouncing beat, bounding bass, and a firey-fingered guitar, culminate in the eve’s most accomplished offering.

On frequent occasion they surrender their alt-rock leanings, straying toward an alliance with indie-pop—an example being No Peace from their latest album, Apricity—the quartet build on this deception until at breaking point, when they leap into a spiral of twanging flights of fancy and crashing percussion. Drummer Josh Magill, from his misty throne, smashes the toms as if rousing the troops for battle–and damn do they have fire in their eyes.

Their new album frolics liberally within the realm of electronica, which they bring to their latest tour in spades; it does not connote a tremendous departure from their earlier style, however— instead the band fuses the electronic-dreaminess of Zero 7 with the bopping fuzz and frantic guitar of White Denim, to a commendable level of success; if not somewhat messy at points.

However, further praise in this regard is marred by their scattershot set-list that tosses the audience around as if victims of a malfunctioning fairground ride. The right tracks were all present, but a rethink of their ordering would have paved the way for a more coherent journey. The set persistently skirts the cusp of entrancement, but as an unwelcome side-effect of their vicious volleys between synthetic soundscapes and the fringes of pop, it never quite reaches the sonic encapsulation of psych-rock that they are clearly capable of. In regard to the cosmic landscape that was expected, we got a postcard rather than a holiday.

A sense of a race to the finish permeates the evening, oft the band are thought to be crafting something grand in spectacle, adding layer on layer of audial sweetness, but they abandon proceedings before the cherry can be placed, souring a sense of denouement. It is clear the crowd are keen for a slice of encore too, but are met with disappointment when the band do not return, perhaps the venue’s strict schedule is to blame for their hasty departure and rushed stage tenure.

Alas, it is better to leave wanting more, rather than feeling stuffed. When the meal had so many bursting flavours, it’s hard to feel majorly disappointed. Tracks Hometown Blues, Portal and Evolution are where the band’s forays into electronica burst forth, and marry with their established fuzzing sensibilities. Liam Magills’ rolling riffs, a plethora of twinkling synths, and Raven Bush’s delicate keys–akin to pattering raindrops on a swelling surf—allow the audience to accompany the band on their winding trip through a near-cosmos.



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