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Album Review

by Artisan Guns

Raccoon Jacket/Warner

Review Date
24th September 2012
Reviewed by
Jennifer Kirby

Following the release of two EPs in 2009 and 2010 respectively, hard-working Auckland band Artisan Guns have delivered a solid and immensely promising debut album with Coral. Often channelling the dreamy pop aesthetics of American indie bands like Beach House, Artisan Guns offer eleven well-crafted songs that sometimes venture into darker themes but retain a strong sense of melody. Although hardly sonically ground breaking, the song construction is impeccable and the band perform them with sincerity and flair.

Opening love song ‘Rain In Summer’ is instantly catchy with Matthew Hope’s endearingly confessional lyrics (‘Awkward as I was/ I held you in my hand’) and quiet but emotionally inflected vocal delivery perfectly complementing the tuneful guitar-dominated musical sounds. The album continues pretty much in the same vein, consisting predominantly of guitar-driven pop/rock love songs which find a way to pleasantly weasel themselves into your head and refuse to budge. Swim is particularly beautiful with its slow, intoxicatingly lovely tune. Similarly, the band utilises harmonisation, gently insistent guitar and a memorable chorus to great effect on ‘Heights’. On tracks such as these Artisan Guns achieve a kind of simple perfection that is often elusive, especially on a full-length debut. The quality of the song-writing and cohesiveness of the album clearly distinguishes this quartet and makes for an album that should find a dedicated and appreciative audience.

Several of the songs feel very personal, embodying the melancholic pain of a broken heart. ‘It Aches’ and ‘Kinda Painful’ are both songs that drip with a sad beauty yet manage to avoid the trappings of unbridled sentimentality. ‘Haze’l is the absolute standout of the album. Saturated with memory and lost love, it is perfectly pitched and quite moving. Listening to Coral, you feel that you are on the receiving end of a direct emotional line to the band. This immediacy is a definite advantage for the album and plays a significant role in generating its appeal.

To be fair Coral could perhaps do with a little more variety and a greater willingness on the part of the band to experiment with different sounds. There is a certain element of repetitiveness present in the album, but this is far outweighed by its other more positive qualities. On first listen, Coral might initially seem minor or incidental but you shouldn’t mistake simplicity for banality. The album grows more powerful with each listen and proves to be both enjoyable and admirable.


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