I have not heard a really good new pop record in quite a while. Much of what I hear these days, and enjoy, is metal, blues, jazz, folk, classical both Indian and Western, sometimes a fusion of some or all of these. And then up comes a pop delight in the form of the recently released second album of We Came As Strangers, “Shattered Matter”. Independently produced – I continue to marvel at the quality of sound some of these indie acts create – and marketed, the album has been winning some well-deserved notice. I received a pre-ordered CD a few days before the official release and since then, it’s probably been the most-played album at home and in the car. The quartet of singer Ellem, keyboardist Owen Thomas, guitarist Justin Sandercoe and bassist Tim Harries have crafted a beautiful set with a very self-assured touch. Right through the album the instrumentation is intricate without being over-the-top and provides excellent texture to Ellem’s voice. And as lovely as her singing is, I’m glad the band chose to highlight the instruments too on “Strangers”.
The languid pace of most of the songs here sometimes bely the fiery passion of songs like the aptly titled “Fire”:
Broke and on the floor
And I was choking, begging you for more
Still I could taste you counting, keeping score
What is it for?
All your profanities, etched into the wall
And just as silence comes I drift away
Violence running through my veins
Nothing makes me feel this way but you
And then you shoot me down
or serve to enhance the wistfulness of “Helium”.
and the doubt and desperation expressed in my favourite track (but by just a tiny margin), “Shattered Matter”.
It’s not all quiet though. There’s the uptempo “Free Fall” with its insistent chorus. And I think the band’s nailed it with the video.
As I read this piece back, I realise that I have struggled with words to describe the music this wonderful band has created. Perhaps that’s a good thing because it’s really the music that speaks loud and eloquent. Give it a listen and if you like it, go ahead and buy.