Looking Inwards, Looking Forwards
Daniel Land and the Modern Painters – The Space Between Us (Club AC30 Recordings)
May 28, 2012
Northenden’s finest return with a painstakingly-crafted follow-up to 2010’s Love Songs for the Chemical Generation, with Daniel Land seemingly eager to share the musical development of his prodigious talent in the intervening two years. Having built up a devoted following since the band’s inception, many will be keen to hear what he has produced.
Recorded and mixed in a Cheshire farmhouse, musically the record shows a well-thought-out tendency to consolidate on signature elements of past work, while adding new things to create a subtly different whole. The beacon-like guitar lines that characterised the previous album are used sparingly, to be replaced by a range of other sounds that mould into an intricate background that for the most part, is prepared to play second fiddle to Land’s vocal. Indeed, only a sudden injection of dynamics in the chorus of 'Sleeping With the Past' and the drawn-out finish to the curiously named 'Starfish Fucking' - where a drawn out guitar lines seemingly leads the way down a long winding road with occasional interludes - spring the instrumentation out of this dream-like state.
The rest of the time, a number of elements combine to make a delicate whole - strummed acoustic guitars, glacial electric feedback, dreamy synthesisers and a whole host of new instruments such as mandolin, accordion and harpsichord. Nothing hangs around too long or draws attention to itself, but it comes together to form the perfect soundtrack to, say, a long walk, a drive in the country, or any moment for reflection.
Land’s vocals are a delight and it is completely to the benefit of the music world that some years ago bandmate Graeme Meikle convinced him to showcase such a raw, emotive, plaintive voice. Choosing to push into deeply personal territory on this record only serves to suit such a vocal delivery, with the lyrics focusing on failed relationships during the writing of the record, yet offering messages of hope and optimism at appropriate points. It is the final part of a determinedly introspective, understated yet absorbing listen.
words: Steve Welch