Album: Modern Studies – We Are There review

by Lorenzo Righetto

Each Modern Studies’ album carries its own signature, and We Are There is no exception

Someone might call this their most accessible record, something like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, or Midlake’s The Trials of Van Occupanther, and not in a negative way – a coinage well deserved through more straightforward folk/rock tracks like Light A Fire.

Despite them being one of the most classy and interesting acts of the latest years, Modern Studies seemed to be destined, at some point, to carefully outgrow their Fire Records’ niche of devoted listeners but not much more. We Are There may hopefully change that though – with its soaring and suggestive string arrangements, its more direct melodies, which don’t compromise the proggy roots of the band, and their well developed taste for far-ranging suites such as Sink Into.

More than a melodic urge, which was always present in the band, the songs present now a neater texture, with their rich and chiaroscuro chamber arrangements, their solemn progressions, sometimes indulging in slow-folk crescendos (Comfort Me, and the Low-esque, Wild Ocean).

The bond between this new attitude and Modern Studies’ quirkier nature finds its apex on Do You Wanna, in which they are able to expand beautifully on a relatively simple, jazzy piano motive, as if it were a Steely Dan song. Two Swimmers is another example of the ability of the band of switching between rhythms and melodic lines in a seamless composition. Another impressive effort by what really is an accomplished band.

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