Album Review: The Vryll Society – Course Of The Satellite

Course Of The Satellite

Deltasonic have been the hosts of some scouse music royalty in the past; The Coral and The Zutons were once part of the stable, while the label was set up by Shack legend Alan Wills. Initially taken under his wing, the late, great Wills would be gratified to see what The Vryll Society have concocted for our delectation.

This has been coming for a long time. Going against the grain, no doubt down to principles of the label, the band have been operating for four years but no album has been rush released. Instead, they’ve been given the opportunity to harness and develop their sound, the resulting album a diverse set of songs that warrants both the time spent and multiple listens.

Their early offerings, none of which make the cut here, were early-Verve mid-paced psyche rock. All that was missing was the incense – to hear a full album in this style would have been enough of a treat – but they haven’t rested on their laurels, and Course Of The Satellite throws other sonic spices into the pot such as trip-hop, straight forward pop and even some funk.

The title-track sets the album’s stall out, it being a burst of sunshine with pin-tight guitars and feather-light, layered vocals, a perfect late accompaniment to the heatwave the UK has been we enjoying/enduring since late June. The music is held together intricately and yet each member is given ample opportunity to shine; A Perfect Rhythm is unsurprisingly powered by the same section, all looping bass and shuffling drums, while Andrei Rublev is pure guitar heaven. Hypnotic throughout the verses and sky-scraping in the solo, the guitar dominates the song – even the instrument itself is seemingly never quite sure where it’s going to go.

Glows And Spheres is the outright pop mentioned above. With a gorgeous chorus and vocals to match, it could come from Blossoms’ songbook. Tears We Cry follows suit and is perhaps a little too on the nose compared to the cryptic and mystic company it keeps. Next to When The Air Is Hot, which is gone before it arrives and doesn’t leave much of an impression, it makes for an unremarkable middle section.

Order is restored when latest single Light At The End Of The World kicks in. Distorted vocals on the verses really make the chorus stand out, and the repeated refrain, ‘I think you’re gonna like it here’ is hard to argue with. Another recent single, Shadow Of A Wave, is a nod to their recent past, propelled by that water-tight rhythm section, the guitar veering into 60s garage-rock territory. One imagines it’s great fun live, giving the band ample opportunity to wig out. Elsewhere, Soft Glue is almost dub-like, so high up is the bass in the mix.

And then comes the funk: Inner Life belongs in a 70s disco with filthy bass and a Nile Rodgers-esque lead guitar. If it wasn’t for Michael Ellis’ oh-so-English singing style it could easily slot into the Shaft soundtrack. You feel like you need a bath as it concludes, but you’d also love to wrap yourself in it for much longer.

Good things come to those who wait then, and Course Of A Satellite is a true testament to that.

(Richard Bowes)

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