From the ashes of much admired alt-folk band Port O’Brien, frontman Van Pierszalowski has fashioned WATERS (like FADED GLAMOUR, it’s in capital letters), a band of sympathetic souls he found in Oslo, turned up the ‘Rawk’ control and cut loose. 'Out In The Light' is the result and it’s quite simply terrific, being both oddly familiar and refreshingly new. It sounds somewhat like how I imagine REM might have sounded if they had started (rather than ended) in 2011.
It’s a collection of ten songs that are, as Pierszalowski says on the band’s blog site: "...about waking up...about getting out of a situation that seems endless…about starting over." There’s certainly a passion running through the music that is not at all overly optimistic but is nonetheless assertive and the resulting urgency drives all the songs - whether out and out rockers like leadoff single 'For The One' or the more emotionally charged numbers like 'If I Run' and 'Mickey Mantle' – without letting up.
Pierszalowski writes nearly all the material – three songs are co-written – and so the album has a sense of a solo artist’s coherence, although guitarist/keyboardist Nikolai Haukeland seems to be an important collaborator. For the album these two add drummer Sigmund Nilsen and vocalist Marte Solbakken, whilst for the current US tour – where they are supporting ‘doom-woppers’ Mister Heavenly and, I imagine, giving them a good run for their money - they are joined by ex-Port O’Brien bassist Caleb Nichols and new drummer Nicholas Wolch. So WATERS has a shifting cast but a solid core.
The album is nicely produced too – by John Congleton – the sound is sparse but impressively big with jangly guitars and solid drumbeats underpinning Pierszalowski’s insistent, sometimes straining, and emotive vocals. I like 'O Holy Break Of Day' for its power and slightly off-kilter raucousness, but elsewhere there are more straightforward but twisted pop songs like title track 'Out In The Light', 'Abridge My Love' and 'Back To You'. But really it’s all good – even the bonus track.
As with the Bayonets album from 2010 that I go on about so much, sometimes you come across an album that couldn’t actually be improved upon, and 'Out In The Light' is such an album. It’s a singular statement that is brilliantly conceived and excellently delivered, and that makes it something special.
FREE DOWNLOAD: WATERS - O Holy Break Of Day by cityslang
FREE DOWNLOAD: WATERS - For The One by NYLONmag
'Out In The Light' is available to purchase at amazon.co.uk. Stream in full via the artwork widget above.