A prize of electronic pop, cinematic melancholia and deft production
Meg Berridge
10:38 8th June 2020

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If you’re like me, hearing Orlando Weeks’ voice haunting the airwaves of BBC 6Music was like seeing a ghost. Of each lap ‘Safe In Sound’ had done around the radio circuit, I was startled each time and every time perplexed and disgruntled in ascertaining that in fact it is not a Maccabees tune. 

Towards the end of their voyage as a band, The Maccabees’ repertoire had a symbolic change of tone with anguish and disdain resonating in Weeks’ voice. In a wake that loomed for three years, the former frontman has released his debut solo album A Quickening —  a raw and evocative album that rips out the stitches and sticks its fingers in the wound. Though, this effort is more James Blake than The Maccabees, with minimalism being the star of the show. A Quickening is lavish with mellow keys and brisk attacks from an electronic drum kit. 

The first three tracks have acted as its poster boys, having been released as singles. ‘Milk Breath’ sounds like heartbreak — Week’s voice is seemingly an ornament on a mantle of ominous bass and mourning keys. It’s not the most joyous start to an album, but it’s fantastic if you relish in sorrow. ‘Blood Sugar’ and ‘Safe And Sound’ play a similar tune on the heartstrings, making them the quintessential soundtrack of staring out of the window on a rainy day and watching raindrops race down the glass. Bizarrely, following tracks ‘St. Thomas’’ and ‘Moon’s Opera’ drop samples of stormy weather in the shadows. 

A Quickening peaks at track number seven, ‘All The Things’. The song has a hypnotic quality with repetitive hooks and Weeks’ heavenly vocals placed delicately on top, ascending to an unearthly climax. ‘Blame Or Love Or Nothing’ is as enchanting as each other track. Its sensibility is built upon an influx of ghostly vocals, a dreamy soundscape of twinkling piano and warm flushes of synth pad. 

So different to his indie pop precursor, the album still bears some similarities, parallels I was unable to draw until penultimate track ‘Summer Clothes’. Like its forerunners, Weeks’ slips the quickening pulse into all his songs —  a euphoric build up resulting in glorious elation.  ‘Dreams’, the final track, is a short piece that melts away into a discordant void of menial rumblings and subdued keys, the antithesis of all prior songs. 

A Quickening is a prize of electronic pop, cinematic melancholia and deft production, striking but reminiscent of the forsaken sounds of the past. 

A Quickening is released on 12 June 2020 via Play It Again Sam. Read our interview with Orlando here

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