Since their arrival on the music scene in 2009, The Amazing have been creating albums that have been, well, amazing. Their blend of post-rock, shoegaze, progressive rock, and psychedelia is unrivaled. Instead of blowing us away with explosive guitar work that characterize these genres, The Amazing have often taken us on an introspective journey with their dreamy sound. Album number four (and overall their fifth record), Ambulance is an The Amazing album through and through. For the most part, it retains the shimmering and lush qualities that won people seven years ago, yet the Stockholm quintet have added a few new touches.
The stirring title track kicks off the album, offering a breathtaking and beautiful number that feels like a soothing coastal breeze. There is more of a cinematic quality to the song, however, which are augmented by some terrific percussion work, soaring piano work, and the addition of strings which heighten the song’s urgency. Then there is the familiar yet unique voice of frontman Christopher Gunrup, which adds to the enchantment. “Floating” takes a similar approach, but mirroring more closely 2015’s sublime Picture You. It is a light yet atmospheric tune that exemplifies The Amazing’s mastery of space and time.
“Divide”, meanwhile, melds in a touch of The Cure’s signature delayed guitar sounds and Gothic vibe, showing that The Amazing can take their melodic approach and turn it into something unexpectedly upbeat. “Perfect Day for Shrimp” sees the band channel their countrymen in José González and The Tallest Man on Earth with an acoustic folk ballad. The storytelling is also reminiscent of the two great Swedish songwriters.
The sprawling “Tracks” is as close to anthemic as The Amazing will come. The collision of the three guitars appear chaotic at first yet the band’s tight arrangements rein in the noise. The song is a display of the group’s brilliance, where contrast often leads to something beautifully harmonious. Conversely, “Through City Lights” offers a lesson in patience. The band slows the pace considerably down to allow the calming and serene melodies to build. The song echoes ’80s soft rock and the Laurel Canyon scene, where every note leaves one captivated. The track might be the quietest and unassuming 8-minute epic in the history of music, but it fits the bill as a song that is memorable and engrossing.
“Blair Danger”, though, stands out as something distinctive and un-The Amazing. The song still possesses the band’s tendency to create moody numbers, but it is haunting and dark. The pace is suspenseful while the instrumentation creates the mood of a film-noir. Lyrically, the song is one the harshest the band has written, outlining the fallacies of reality. Yet at the same time, “Blair Danger” is symbolic of differences heard in Ambulance. While this song is notably different, there are differences that are heard throughout the album. Quietly, subtly, The Amazing are evolving and transforming, yet still creating music that is brilliantly intoxicating.
Ambulance is out now via Partisan Records. The Amazing are comprised of Christopher Gunrup, Reine Fiske, Fredrik Swahn, Alexis Benson, and Moussa Fadera.
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