Review: Amber Run's new EP "The Assembly"

"And I wake up early... to watch you as you wake. And open your eyes to the sound of the rain..."
Delicacy, genuine love, and spontaneity are all characteristics that constellate Amber Run's new EP, The Assembly. It's something new, something that the young band from Nottingham only hinted at in their previous works. The sounds that give visibility to this record are pure and uncontaminated; there is neither overproduction nor overuse of synths. It's just Joshua Keogh's voice, former guitarist Will Jones' guitar, Tom Sperring's bass, and the hypnotizing Henry Wyeth's keys.

The 3 songs make up a very intimate experience, talking about a romantic wake-up call in "The Weight", with sweet and welcoming lyrics that symbolize the awe one should feel when in love - how the only thing that matters is to be in a room with that special someone, and how the rest of the world just disappears. The element that really struck me was the softness and simplicity that the scene is described with:
"Flick hair from your shoulder / as sleep marks your face / retreat to the covers / from the sound of the rain."
As the song continues, more harmonies and echoes are added, but still, the predominant element is Keogh's warm and sharp voice that fades away to give space to an intense yet subtle piano riff.

The second song, "Heaven Is A Place", starts with a static sound, almost as if the listener had to tune into it on a vintage radio. Here too, the echo of Keogh's voice creates a profound atmosphere that builds up as soon as the light drums kick in. The structure of this song is a little bit more complicated than the first one, which was almost a capella. The lyrics are for sure the most important factor throughout this entire EP, and I have to say that for a second when listening I even forgot there were other instruments because these spoken words just drown their victim into another dimension. Available to us are guitar synths and electronic elements, but Amber Run were surprisingly able to keep it very simple, and perhaps this is what makes these tracks so effective. The bitterness of this specific song emerges through some lines, but it still makes for a perfect love song: honest and simple, Amber Run's signature.
"Heaven is a place like this, an assembly of broken things... but never heard an angel sing where living doesn't feel like falling."
The highest emotional peak is reached in the last song, "Amen", which starts with a guitar loop that enhances the pain the band wants to let out. This is a song about a loss, about death and a never ending love. The high notes played on the piano reflect like a mirror the words that are sung by the heartbroken artist, who has been able to concentrate what life is about into just 3 minutes. It is almost a religious hymn, full of doubtful questions about existence, and it is the most intimate confession someone could ever make: weakness. The climax of this song comes at the end, when Keogh starts screaming angrily yet desperately into the microphone:
"'Cause I see you in the daytime and I hear you at night, there's a pale imitation burnt in my eyes, I don't wanna be here, I don't know what to do... sometimes I'd rather be dead, at least then I'm with you, Amen..."
The outcome sounds as if Amber Run just had to let it all out; not pretentiously, but in the simplest and most genuine way. It’s like Keogh wanted to let us all know that he has been through some stuff and he wanted music to be the mediator between him and the fans, because there is no better way to express the state of one’s soul.

Even if it is not the best work Amber Run have released, I admire the courage of making public something that appears to be so personal and introspective. Sometimes we have to do only what we can bring ourselves to do, and if this is it for Amber Run, then be it. Chapeau.

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