The fourth studio album by itinerant project Ed Hale And The Transcendence brings together new contributors and a collection of songs intertwining the talents and influences gathered together.
The album opener offers uplifting soul vocals accompanied by a blissful piano and trumpet melody which ebbs and flows during the eleven tracks. Intermittent phrases of dialogue, another recurring motif carried throughout, consolidate a cinematic feel of the LP as the prelude segues into the next.
‘Here It Comes’ is the track infused most with the spirit of Britpop; the anthemic instrumentation, the rousing chorus and the soaring strings all present and correct. Hallmark elements of the Britpop sound also surface in ‘Solaris’, where Hale’s vocals, carried along by jaunty acoustic guitar chords, echo Bono and Alex Kapranos in parts; ‘After Tomorrow’, seven minutes in length, apes the likes of the mellow vibes and extended outro of ‘Champagne Supernova’ and the close backing harmonies of ‘Hey Jude’.
Other tracks offer all-too-brief temptations of variance in sound. ‘Indian Princess’ is the band’s ‘Radiohead moment’ with shimmering guitars and vocal oscillation from falsetto to near-sneer in places. Synthesised beats are brought to the table in ‘Blind Eye’ with its undercurrent of industrial noises bubbling in the background, while ‘Messed It Up Again’ flirts with drum-and-bass in its intro and instrumental breaks.
With the compelling title ‘We Are Columbine (The Unforgiven)’, you already anticipate a volatile diatribe, and that’s what you get. Starting off with a vocal snatch of an English journalist (who sounds too much like Jeremy Vine for this writer’s liking) questioning Madeline Albright, it yields to a powerful riff and shouty, urgent vocals. In the lyrics, ‘We’ personifies places such as Columbine, Palestine, Kosovo – all with the conclusion ‘Nobody gives a damn, just like Vietnam’; making it hard to ascertain if, as listeners, we ourselves are heroes or villains.
However, the general indie-pop vibe reflected through ‘All Your Heroes Become Villains’ is the over-riding theme; unifying the eleven tracks in an ensemble piece of sturdy musicianship and pleasant tunes.
‘All Your Heroes Become Villains’ by Ed Hale And The Transcendence is released on November 14. More information on the band is available on their website.