Being one of the most recognisable and important voices of indie since the early part of the century, you’d be forgiven for imagining what shape a solo Orlando Weeks record would take.
Thankfully he takes this opportunity to not relive past glories and better yet, move forward to a mature place where new sounds are to be discovered and heard. There are however, some noticeable similarities between A Quickening and The Maccabees’ 2012 record Given To The Wild, but only in that sounds like a lush amalgamation of things you’ve heard before, but also that it is forging its own path where genre is concerned.
Maybe surprisingly to some A Quickening carries no stand out single. This breeds comparisons to the latest Monkeys album, but what the album is in-fact, is a beautiful collection of songs that tell the tale of a witness statement of love, anticipation, apprehension and even at times, helplessness that is being an expectant father. The responsibilities, the emotions, the worries that come into play as he is present, yet also removed from the situation.
We begin a month out from the due date. “Milk Breath” dissects that apprehensive eagerness to welcome a child into the world. Weeks announces: “You’re a beginner / I’m a beginner too” as trumpets glide on the glaciers of the tracks midriff. Before Weeks’ staple vocal descends into a crescendo. As “Blood Sugar” comes in there is talk of bellyaching and hearing those first cries and what you signed up for. The magnificence of life engrained in limited sounds that take on so much meaning.
“Safe In Sound” is a track that is seemingly always at a growing canter. There is a Postal Service-esque vocal melody that underpins the tracks roots. Lyrically it takes on that aforementioned passive position of the father to only admire and be at awe the mothers power and the beauty of a new-born. “And I picture you with flowers / Sleeping on a name / I would wait forever / To hear that sound you'll make. ” A merry go round of sounds grow and grow until a summit is reached. From there a splendid view of flickering Bonnie Prince Billy electronics that neighbour a bright guitar line that feeds you the right spoonful for the tracks end.
“St Thomas’ is a highlight. It features bright Eno-esque production and wonderful cooing vocals and there’s even some neo-soul engrained within its foundations. While “Takes A Village” centres around London and a first trip for father and son. “Anything you want come get me / Baby wants the light of the city / It’s better if you’re always with me” sings Weeks over a continuous tinkling piano that dwells within a beehive of reverb.
“Moon’s Opera” comes across as a Kooky 50s love song that you’d find on the soundtrack of a romantic film. It could soundtrack a starlet of the screen captured in super-8 on a balcony calling out to the moon’s fantasia as it dictates the waves below. As it turns out, it’s actually an ode to drawings that Weeks sketched of expeditions of space for his wife and himself with his child entangled in her hair. The song ends just as quickly as it begins.
As the album reaches its final stretch arguably the most indie track of the record rears its head. “All The Things” - a wonky indie track with woodwind sounds and an almost melancholy trumpet that toots throughout – would sit perfectly in the third act of a play. Musically it would work perfectly in a travelling scene in a performance. Speaking of journeys ,“None Too Tough” sees a dreamlike backdrop where Weeks drives a flying carpet over the Egyptian night. “Summer Clothes” is a recital of love and humour in equal measure that takes place over an evocative piano and Weeks' falsetto. Expect the music over the next viral banking advert.
A record full of handsome brass parading around an etch a sketch of ever changing life and love, Weeks holds the frame and with each listen you hear something you didn’t the previous time. A Quickening is your own bundle of joy you can love time and again, minus the diaper changes.