Syd Arthur are a band that have long been associated with psychedelic music, and the music video for Apricity (the single, not the album) suggests that they intend to continue in that direction. The band plays silhouetted against a black backdrop, lit up in a variety of vivid colours. It evokes the imagery of mid-2000’s “nu-rave” music, or alternative psychedelic bands like Animal Collective, but actually listening to the song itself suggests something else. Syd Arthur are seemingly moving away from the jazz and 70’s prog influences of their early work, and are trying to make more accessible, pop-leaning music.
Apricity is the closing track on the album of the same name, and it’s style is indicative of that of its namesake. Over a driving drum beat, synths arpeggios and basslines snake across the mix, and punchy staccato guitar chords make up the main melodic hooks. The vocals are laid back, but seem to soar across the music in just the right way, like they’re floating on a higher plane. It could be viewed as just another pop-rock song, but the band has a specific energy and swagger that keeps them elevated above their contemporaries.
Not every track quite nails the aesthetic as well as the title track, however. The opening two tracks, whilst interesting, don’t quite feel of a piece with the rest of the album. The focus, particularly on Plane Crash in Kansas isn’t on the groove, but on the vocal melodies, which creates a bluesy sense of immediacy. It’s not a bad sound, but it feels out of place on the otherwise harmonious album.
In spite of an inconsistent opening, Apricity is a solid album, which moves Syd Arthur’s sound into a new, more accessible space. The recording is clean, and the songs are punchy, without venturing into the surreal places they’ve so often been drawn to. Apricity strikes new ground for the band, and suggests an exciting road ahead.