Syd Arthur - Apricity (Harvest)

Canterbury psych-jazz stalwarts return with fourth LP

Released Oct 21st, 2016 via Harvest / By Norman Miller
Syd Arthur - Apricity (Harvest) This latest from Syd Arthur finds the Kent quartet not only changing personnel but direction too. Previous albums – up to 2014's excellent Sound Mirror – saw them carve out a reputation as purveyors of a freak-out laden proggy jazz rock meets psych folk that drew comparisons with Tame Impala.

But Apricity sees the band heading west (as in LA rather than Cornwall) and upping their sibling count to three with the arrival of drummer Josh Magill to join bros Joel (bass) and vocalist/guitarist Liam. Wonderfully-named Raven Bush (nephew of Kate) remains on keyboards.

You can get an idea of the change of direction here in that a band who previously opened for Yes are now touring with Jake Bugg. And Apricity showcases a similar skill at conjuring interesting mainstream sounds as the talented Bugg. “Now we’re playing bigger rooms and festivals you’ve got to learn to make bigger, bolder statements,” is how Raven has put it in interview, and that meatier, slicker West Coast America sound is in evidence throughout – eventually to good effect.

Things start badly, mind, with the vaguely catchy but over-polished Coal Mine and bland Plane Crash In Kansas, but begin to pick up with the trippy pop of No Peace then the surging Sun Rays.

Several tracks stand out. Into Eternity melds sweetly evocative vocals, jazzy guitar and prog keyboards - which also appear to good effect on Rebel Lands. Seraphim, meanwhile, is a swooping and swirling masterclass in combining angular attack with delicate bass, woven through with staccato drums.

Portal is a lovely instrumental of tip-toeing guitar and keyboard interplays. Jerky guitar flourishes interject memorably into the cool lope of Evolution. As if by way of a nod to their past there's a hint of jam in the psych pop strut of the closing title track, which ends in a beautiful fading almost hippy acoustic coda.

Apricity is certainly a step in a new direction for Syd Arthur. If they can keep some of the restless energy of their earlier albums and avoid getting too slick, things are looking good for the future.