Boasting the perfect title for the upcoming political party conference season, Annelotte de Graaf’s second release finds the Dutch chanteuse in wistful and pensive mood, whilst creating a retro yet contemporary sound oozing sophisticated European chic; something we will be able to remember with varying degrees of fondness depending on point of view, when we’re all tucking into boiled beef and carrots this time next year.
Recorded in Los Angeles and Richmond Virginia, with a handy stop off in Death Valley for the album’s cover photo, Amber Arcades’ new release on Heavenly Recordings is an altogether more complex affair than its predecessor. One very quickly notices the rich density of the record, the sound, packed out with strings, brass and piano, effectively sugar coating the album’s themes of breaking-up, fetishizing the past, the cycle of life, needlessly competitive behaviour, existentialism and disaffection both politically and emotionally. The latter theme is particularly apparent on the song ‘European Heartbreak’, the singer at her most disappointed yet resigned; you can almost imagine hearing the line ‘Europe, it’s not you / I’m starting to think it could be me’ emanating from Mr Marmite himself Boris Johnson, De Graaf somewhat fearful of our shared yet uncertain future, arguably qualified by her previous experience working at the international war crimes tribunal.
‘Oh my Love What Have We Done?’ ‘Antoine’ and ‘Something’s Gonna Take Your Love Away’ snapshot Annelotte in reflective mood although Amber Arcades still manage to take the opportunity to rock out, the effortless bar room stomp of ‘I’ve Done the Best’ not really going anywhere in particular but perhaps not needing to.
With a three-part short film showcasing a selection of songs from ‘European Heartbreak’ also recommended viewing, Amber Arcades, following a warm-up show at Festival Number 6, will be hitting the UK roads in this Autumn including an appearance at Leeds Belgrave Music Hall on 9th October, ensuring everyone a last drop of sonic summeriness before the days really start to shorten.
Words - Mike Price