Review Summary: Melody-haters need not apply.
It's been rending my soul that this has gone completely ignored for so long on this site. So much so that I had to stop what I was doing and write this. I couldn't take it anymore. Here's the main thing you need to know: Thirteen Senses can write melodies as well as anyone. Their beautiful atmospheres shift between warm and somber, somehow embodying both at times.
Thirteen Senses has progressively added things to their music over their last two albums, Contact
and Crystal Sounds
, and they are two great albums in their own right. But the genius that is Thirteen Senses can be found in its purest, most unadulterated form right here in The Invitation
. The vocalist, Will South, has one of my favorite voices in music. I've read comparisons to Mew's lead singer; personally I think Will is miles better. His voice is a bit lower, and it varies more. It has more depth and soul to it: as mentioned earlier, he has the ability to sound warm and somber at the same time. While beautiful, this is also pretty rare. Similar to The Beatles, so many of the guitar and piano riffs in these songs are remarkably brilliant despite their simplicity. The main melody is sometimes played by the piano, such as in “Do No Wrong”, and sometimes the guitar drives it (“Gone”). Often it switches back and forth. The bass is barely noticeable but adds to the atmosphere quite a bit.
You may have heard the first track, “Into The Fire”, before, as it's been used in countless TV shows and movies. And while “Into The Fire” is great, it's actually one of the weaker songs on the album. The 2-3-4-5 punch of “Thru The Glass”, “Gone”, “Do No Wrong”, and “Salt Wound Routine” is incredible and one of the best contiguous sections of music I've heard on any album, period. The second half of the album is less hook-laden and a tad more post-rock-y. Of the second half, “Undivided” is probably the most accessible, with “History” and “Automatic” being big growers.
It's really rare that something that could be considered “pop” has this much atmosphere. I would really love to describe the world that this album takes me to, but I don't want that to affect what it does to you. Let it take you where it will.