Sunday, 12 November 2017

Album of the Month: Columbia Mills - A Safe Distance To Watch

Columbia Mills - A Safe Distance To Watch

Info: Following on from a trio of critically acclaimed singles this year, 'Head Start', 'This City Doesn’t Feel Like Home To Me', and the radio hit 'Battles', Bray indietronica quintet Columbia Mills finally released their debut album, 'A Safe Distance To Watch', on Friday November 10th.

The overarching theme of the album is putting space between yourself and someone else or certain situations to avoid being influenced negatively or to avoid influencing someone else with your own negativity. Finding or providing peace by putting a distance between yourself and someone else despite the short term or long term pain it creates.

With a slow-drifting intro, Columbia Mills open their debut LP A Safe Distance To Watch via 'A Break In The Clouds, Head Start', the soft synth sounds winding their way towards the sun peeking through at the 1:30 mark. From here they kick into gear on their previous single 'Head Start', a rousing and rhythmic piece of electronic indie that nods to Interpol or White Lies. 

Another hit single follows quickly in the form of 'Battles', snapping drum pads and quick key progressions set the tone, the tribal and intent-filled beat appropriately matching the song-title. It is easy to see why this was a standout single release, the drops and rise between chorus and verse are quite invigorating and there's an inescapable anthemic quality to the track.

'This City Doesn't Feel Like Home To Me' adopts a more post-punk and new wave sound and it's quite gripping lyrically. From a personal perspective, when the single was released in July and I merely read the title, before even listening to the track, it had already begun to conjure themes in my head. A reflection of how the place you grew up in has become unrecognisable, not physically or aesthetically with the passage of time, but more to do with the ravages inflicted on the weakest, and in some ways all of us on a certain level, over the past decade. This sense is captured in the lines; "And every street 'round here has a story to tell / The poets painted on the wall look down on us in disgust"

Columbia Mills slow the pace and mood on the watery shimmering buzz of 'Alone', singer Fiachra Treacy giving us the old school crooner treatment accompanied by stark and bare guitar progressions. Following the dark electronic harbinger of 'Coldest Shoulder' we come to 'Same Shame'. It's a beautifully delivered ballad to a wrenching break-up that just won't dissipate, it's nice to have a common yet time-honoured theme have an original lyrical accompaniment attached to it, opening with the lines; "Underneath the debris / Of this silent sounding city / There’s a place where I left you / A place I dug a grave for my own heart".

One of the tracks that particularly caught my attention in the albums latter half was the graceful 'Octopus'. Again emotion abounds and the build from sombre to elation is executed very well, the electric guitar effects sound at their best right here, filling every single gap in the sound with the percussion lapping softly in the background.

A Safe Distance To Watch closes with 'We Decide', the fourth single to be taken from the album, retro-80's synths to the forefront, Columbia Mills grab all of the elements of the album thus far and pour them into one last push over the line. Searing and ice-cold guitar riffs vibrate in a frenzied manner and by the time we reach the final third of the track all 5 musicians are melding into one column of sound. 

Some elements of A Safe Distance To Watch will pop out at you straight away, others will require a few more listens, and therein lies the reward and evidence of a well-thought out collection of songs which click neatly together and musically flow from start to finish, something which seems to be a bit of a rarity nowadays on contemporary albums. As far as Columbia Mills are concerned, they can sit back with great satisfaction that patient building has produced such a highly enjoyable album for music lovers.

Columbia Mills play The Button Factory this Friday, 17th of November with support from Pursued By Dogs. Tickets are available via Eventbrite here.

A Safe Distance To Watch is also currently available on physical vinyl and CD formats at Tower Records Dublin and all good record stores.

Look / Like / Listen & Follow:






1 comment: