Review Summary: And So I Watch You, Adebisi Shank.
Distinguishable as one of the leading bands in the modern post-rock scene, And So I Watch You From Afar deliver both alluring atmospheres and crashing tirades of guitars to form simply delicious albums, crammed full of carefully balanced technicality and brutality stamped with their distinct energetic style. The initial tirade withstanding, their self titled debut channelled their ambient influences, whilst the 2011 follow-up Gangs
saw a brasher, denser style characterised by frenetic guitar work. In their quest to produce a poppier, bouncier album, And So I Watch You From Afar have emulated Adebisi Shank’s winsome style - but unfortunately they don’t quite have the boundless vitality to pull it off. What All Hail Bright Futures
ultimately achieves is a blurring of styles between themselves and their contemporaries, and they've come dangerously close to losing their identity in the process.
The problem with criticizing And So I Watch You From Afar is that even though they've almost completely abandoned their signature sound, they've still managed to craft an album full of toe tapping and at times, first pumping melodies. They've largely shelved their successful formula, and yet there are still moments of brilliance scattered throughout which shine and counteract the uninspired. The biggest irritation this raises however is that they’re capable of a much higher level of consistency. Whether it’s the delicate string and trumpet combination on “Trails” which makes up for the cringe-worthy intro to “Ka Ba Ta Bo Da Ka” or the excellent dual guitar work on “Like A Mouse” which counteracts the underwhelming “Eunoia,” they show that their ear for melody hasn't deserted them. The problem is that these moments struggle and compete with inferior moments for your attention, and they often come out second best.
Considering that the only vocals used on their previous efforts were a “woo” here and a “hey” there, the oft-included, ill-advised contributions on All Hail Bright Futures
unsurprisingly emerge as the greatest drawback. Whether they were added with sing-a-longs and live performances in mind or whether the band is genuinely trying to evolve, they seem incompatible and frankly feel out of place. All Hail Bright Futures
is a surprising misstep from a band that has gone off the beaten track in order to diversify their sound: a detour which has only led to them sounding more like everybody else.