Review Summary: Probably the most beautiful and fragile sounding record of the year.6 of 6 thought this review was well written"Winter's falling/and he wants to row/like a soldier's heart/a screeching crow"
. The first words on TBC make it apparent that this isn't the happy pop album, people expected from Amatorski. The nursery rhymes on Same Stars We Shared, their EP that came out last year, brought a fresh wind over the pop landscape with their child-like innocence. But how a band's sound can evolve over the course of a year: gone is the happy style, TBC is drenched in melancholia and apparent sadness. The nursery rhyme sound is still here, but packed in a blanket of reverb, exposing the listener to a very ethereal and even threatening feeling.
Instrumental opener "Fading", for example, could have been easily used on a horror/thriller soundtrack; starting very dreamy, but then transforming into a subtle nightmarish tune with the notion of danger and evil lurking around the corner. Gradual mood changes in the songs are found throughout the album, as are the interchanges between the use of calmth and silence and orchestral grandeur. The whispers of singer Inne Eysermans should be seen as an extra instrument in the mix, filling the silences in the music itself. At times her voice is haunting, other times it's soothing and relaxing, according to the feeling the songs try to evoke.
The music itself makes splendid use of small and grand piano arrangements and sparse guitar themes. They paint a picture of the fall: lots of rain outside, dripping against the windows, little rays of sunshine piercing through the grey clouds... Of course, that's just my interpretation, but the album really lends itself to somber afternoons, where it's just nice to stay inside and enjoy the warmth of the fireplace and a hot beverage.
Although the piano and guitar get plenty of space to play on their own (see for example "8 November"), most of the time they are kept in line by the backbone of Amatorski: the tight rhythm section. Influences of trip-hop groups (most notably Portishead) are most apparent in the beats on "Soldier" and "Peaceful". This blending of the tight beats and floating piano/guitar lines is probably Amatorski's greatest strength and keeps the attention of the listener.
TBC only counts 7 tracks (8 if you count the hidden one), which is quite little. But the album flows perfectly and doesn't last a second too long (or too short for that matter). Perfection is what Amatorski strives for, because attention is given to the smallest details. The album cover is both beautiful and mysterious (plus it comes in 2 variants). The songs titles and - especially - the album title itself evoke thought on their meaning, while just sounding 'right': they fit the music really well. The rather hefty change in sound on such short notice, means the band is still evolving and isn't afraid to take risks, which is promising for future releases. But as of now, TBC is easily one of the big surprises this year and simply one of the best overall albums released in 2011.