Now onto their fourth studio album, Northern Irish post-rock behemoths And So I Watch You From Afar have quite simply, done it again. From the apocalyptic soundscapes of their 2009 self-titled debut to the brash enthusiasm of 2013’s All Hail Bright Futures the band have showcased impeccable musical skill throughout their career. Latest album Heirs serves as the next chapter in that enthralling story you hope will never end.
Opening track ‘Run Home’ picks up where All Hail Bright Futures left off with a fast-paced onslaught from the outset, before taking a brief moment of respite to work in some of that spine-chilling dynamic magic the band are renowned for. Featuring its own title as a refrain, And So I Watch You From Afar’s transition from silent giant to loud, raucous monster is almost complete with Heirs featuring the most conventional “lyrics” to date, evolving from the rhythmic chanting of previous albums (e.g. ‘7 Billion People All Alive At Once’ and ‘Ka Ba Ta Bo Da Ka’).
‘These Secret Kings I Know’ and ‘Wasps’ both possess an unpredictable energy which hurtles them from start to finish, with the latter capturing a much more determined air, and with both clocking in at under three minutes they are manageable chunks of brilliance.
Introducing some tension to the record is ‘People Not Sleeping’ which has the feel of a jittery swagger, person borne out of some insomnia-based writing itself. From the part-haunting, part-soaring vocals to the ever intricate guitar work building and demolishing waves of emotion, this track is certain to rouse something in the deeper parts of your brain.
Oddly reminiscent of previous track ‘B Is For B-Side’ from 2010’s Letters EP, ‘Fucking Lifer’ revolves around a simple melody for a constrained amount of time. However, coupled with intelligent musical additions it is one of the most impressive tracks on the record. Conversely, following track ‘A Beacon, A Compass, An Anchor’ possesses just enough sea-faring attitude over its span to be incredible. Building to a plateau rather than an explosion it trundles along with self-assurance until that moment of guitar-wielding brilliance is finally delivered.
The album’s title and penultimate track presents some of the “old” And So I Watch You From Afar as it seamlessly pairs endearing passages with unrelenting statements of energy. Whilst perhaps lacking the clout of tracks such as ‘Don’t Waste Time Doing Things You Hate’ it strikes a beautiful balance nevertheless.
Talented and intelligent, this Belfast quartet are certainly at the pinnacle of musical creation. Admired by their fans and peers alike, it would seem like an impossible occurrence to have such a thing as a “bad” And So I Watch You From Afar. Wallowing in the majesty of the quartet of albums released so far, all that remains is to enjoy and look with yearning into the future for what comes next.