Have you ever felt pure joy? Perhaps you were running, naked and free in a glorious field surrounded by sunshine and lollipops. Maybe you were blissfully asleep, your slumber full of smiles as your dreams, for a fleeting moment, are as good as reality. Whatever your definition of delirious happiness, All Hail Bright Futures is full of that same sense of rapturous joy in abundance.
Everything about And So I Watch You From Afar’s third record is staggeringly delightful. From beginning to end it is a wonderful medley full of bombast and cheer; ‘Big Thinks Do Remarkable’, with its scatterbrain guitars and chants of “The sun is in our eyes” throws you into the greatest hoedown you could possibly imagine. Straight after, ‘Like a Mouse’ bounds eagerly forwards, a scintillating symposium of foot-stamping revelry.
It’s a struggle to put into words just how exciting All Hail Bright Futures’ opening half is. You could be ’90s-era Trent Reznor and still find yourself grinning ecstatically within minutes. Key to this effervescent atmosphere is the rapid-fire nature of the album; jaunts come and go in quick succession, with no room left to take a breather and wonder why you’re on cloud nine. Honestly, it feels like the band has recorded the whole of All Hail Bright Futures in one rambunctious session.
Everything is done with a charming sense of earnestness. There are no ulterior motives here, just the celebration of being damn happy. “We know that that’s not the way of the world”, the band chorus on ‘The Stay Golden’, a call to arms for everyone just to lighten up a little. Too often post rock bands swamp themselves in moodiness and overwrought passages; In And So I Watch You From Afar’s world, you say bollocks to that and have a tropical steel drum breakdown (‘Rats on a Rock’) that sounds like the kind of music Sebastian from The Little Mermaid would make.
These tracks all hold a remarkable, but never lecturing, sense of optimism. A lot of music just isn’t this happy anymore; even your Taylor Swifts and Lady Gagas are approximating complex and trying emotions through the power of pop. But here, that glee influences every note, every instrument, throughout. The sparse vocals deserve a mention, for they will inevitably be on everyone’s lips come touring time given their simplicity and call-and-response nature.
I’ve discovered the cure for depression; and it came from Northern Ireland. In fact, I propose that we get in touch with every global leader who has beef with another and get them to an All Hail Bright Futures listening party. I’m willing to be that, in less than ten minutes, Obama will be running around with Kim Jong-un shirtless and whooping on his back. Just imagine it, folks.
All Hail Bright Futures sees And So I Watch You From Afar fulfilling the promise that both their debut and follow up teased. Unlike those previous efforts, there’s no excess here. Its 42 minute run-time flies by in a blur, never lagging or overstaying its welcome. It’s not going to be something appropriate for all occasions; the album would shine at one of those American house parties where everyone drinks from red cups, and for those times when the sun is warm it’s not far from perfection. So now all we need is some sunshine, eh?