Release Date: Jul 1, 2013
Record label: EMI
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock
When they emerged in 2009, London's Goldheart Assembly found themselves being touted as the British Fleet Foxes, a comparison mildly rebuked by the rockier direction they've taken further on this second album. Television and Ash-style guitar riffs abound on Billy in the Lowground and the glorious Into Desperate Arms, respectively. Harvest in the Snow bears the electric poignancy of the House of Love circa Blind; Transit packs the power of an electrical coil.
Goldheart Assembly took three years to follow up their winsome, folky debut album Wolves & Thieves, and the time away paid off: Long Distance Song Effects keeps the jangly hooks and soaring harmonies but takes a looser, more creative approach that's often a little stranger and a lot more interesting. A strong '70s vibe permeates the album's orchestral rock-inspired arrangements and instrumentation; perhaps paradoxically, this vintage feel results in some of the band's freshest and most inspired songs yet. With its achingly beautiful melody and slow-building grandeur, "Stephanie and the Ferris Wheel" recalls the lavish pop of pre-disco Bee Gees; "Behind This Lonely Sun" boasts the kind of leisurely drama that graced many of Elton John's ballads.
When Goldheart Assembly emerged at the tail end of the last decade, their beards, straw hats, long hair and fondness for West Coast harmonies invited comparisons to Fleet Foxes and Mumford And Sons. Long Distance Song Effects is the follow-up to the London five-piece’s debut Wolves And Thieves. The product of two years’ worth of sporadic sessions with Swiss producer Tobi Gmur, it’s an album that’s simultaneously lusher and rockier than Wolves And Thieves.
The recent news that Goldheart Assembly were due to release a new album was a startling reminder of just how long its been since their previous effort, 2010’s debut Wolves & Thieves. It also emphasises how much the band have disappeared from view, after ‘King Of Rome’ had garnered a decent amount of radio coverage and that first album warmed a few hearts. The fact that their return is not rivaling Boards Of Canada and MBV for message board histrionics underlines the fact that this is not a comeback that's exactly being looked toward with fanfare and fevered anticipation.
Around the time Mumford & Sons started fiddling their way to public approval, London five-piece Goldheart Assembly were also treading a folk-tinged path. The former have risen to Glastonbury-headlining levels of fame, and it’d be a shame if this second album didn’t send GA on a similar trajectory. Cannoning between warm-hearted Band Of Horses-isms (‘The Idiot’), soaring harmonies (‘Billy In The Lowground’) and lighters-aloft choruses built for festival dusk (‘Sad Sad Stage’), the quintet deliver a sincere emotional punch.
It’s not always instantly discernible but once you realise what that nagging sensation infiltrating your ears and pervading your aural faculties is, it’s hard to let go of. Charm. Musical charm. Everything about Goldheart Assembly’s ‘Long Distance Song Effects’ brims with a delicate endearing buzz.