Albums, Music, The Revue — April 11, 2018 at 5:30 am

The Amazing – ‘In Transit’ (album review)

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Through their first four album, The Amazing have established a reputation for making lush, ethereal music that merged post-rock and the classic sounds of the ’70s LA music scene with progressive and shoegaze elements. Their self-titled debut LP started the journey in 2009 while their last album, 2016’s Ambulance, perfected it. Given their history, it was easy to conclude that the Stockholm-based quintet would once again overwhelm listeners with their majestic beauty on their fifth record, In Transit. Although there are plenty of breathtaking tracks, The Amazing haven’t completely stayed stationary. They have very subtly added new elements to expand their sound without compromising what they do best, which is to put listeners into a meditative state. The result is an output that is as dazzling as its predecessors yet filled with unexpected surprises.

The album’s bookends reveal The Amazing we’ve grown to love. Closer “Je Travaille Dans la Banque” (“I Work in the Bank”) is reminiscent of the music on the band’s sophomore album, Gentle Stream. It is, as such, like a walk through the Laurel Canyon neighborhood but executed in a way that takes the familiar, dreamy folk-rock sound to ethereal heights. Opener “Pull” sees The Amazing turn to dreamgaze to create an incredibly stunning and mesmerizing number. Between the lush guitar lines, the soft hum of the keys, and Christopher Gunrup’s enthralling vocals, the band create the most wondrous tidal wave of color and sound.

“Rewind” is The Amazing at their distinctive progressive post-folk-rock best. The soothing melody and Gunrup’s stirring vocals are sublime, taking you to a place where the warm sunshine shines upon you while the ocean breeze cools your body. It is a place, a time when everything seemed ideal and nothing could interrupt this dream. A time when one’s heart was in the hands of the one person who understood and loved you. Similarly, “First Touch of Light” is pure bliss, as the band delve into folklore and the sea to deliver a stunning numbers.

Just as these four songs make us think we completely understand who The Amazing are, they offer a few subtle and not-so-subtle curveballs. It begins with “Voices Sound”, which sees Gunrup’s songwriting head in a darker direction despite the lush melodies and vocals. On “Leave Us a Light”, the band minimize the layers and effects and turn to old-school dream-folk-rock to dazzle. It’s the closest thing to a stripped-back song The Amazing have ever created.

A neo-psychedelic disco-vibe, meanwhile, is heard on the romantic “Never Be”. The song could be the love ballad for Tony Manero and Stephanie Mangano (the characters of Saturday Night Fever). Urgency and desperation, meanwhile, fill the fantastic “Asleep”, which simultaneously haunts and enchants. This is The Amazing merging dream soundscapes with interstellar rock.

The most overt display of invention is the epic, Benson se Convirtio Completamente Furiosa”. This nearly 10-minute epic echoes My Morning Jacket in the approach. The first half is a gentile, warm, and borderline breathtaking with The Amazing delivering lush melodies. Gunrup, though, delivers a story of suffering and lost. His words foreshadow what is to come, which is a hurricane of noise highlighted by a searing guitar solo. This tidal wave-like change reflects the pain and confusing growing inside the story’s character. It is a man who has lost everything.

Yet for The Amazing, this tune and the others on the album showcase a band that has everything to gain and nothing to lose. For a band who already has shown the ability to dazzle and hypnotize. Now are they ready to melt our faces? Maybe not quite yet, but the steps have been laid for this possibility as well as many others. In the meantime, we will continue to meditate under their incomparable lushness and gorgeous beauty.

In Transit is out now on Partisan Records, and it can be picked up on Bandcamp.

The Amazing are Christopher Gunrup, Reine Fiske, Fredrik Swahn, Alexis Benson, and Moussa Fadera. Follow them on social media to get tour announcements.

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