Release Date: Aug 26, 2013
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
MONEY's The Shadow of Heaven feels both epic in scope and poetic in tone, shunning expected notions of pop to deal with weighty concepts, spacious arrangements, and lyrical preoccupations with the wider concerns of humanity..
At every turn, Jamie Lee and his troupe of capital R-romantics set themselves up for a fall. From adorning their debut single with a shot of Lee, stark-bollock naked, clutching a rifle, to the spidery, philosophical poetics of their interview personas, and the grammar-defying, two fingers up to SEO analysts and sub-editors that their name represents, M O N E Y pitch themselves as aggressively, unashamedly radical. As foremost proponents of the rejuvenating anti-aesthetics purported by Salford’s SWAYS label, and their self-labelled project of cultural regeneration, their mission is a purifying one.
There are few bands as enamoured by their own dreams as Manchester’s Money. Channelling the super-wonderstruck sound of ‘A Northern Soul’-period The Verve, they don’t so much play songs as imagine them, and this debut carries you on pillowy reverb and ribboned guitar to places only a handful of bands since Simple Minds have visited. They’re magical, not least in their ability to conjure that British combination of epic and vulnerable without recourse to fey wetness (read: Snow Patrol).
Given that this Mancunian four-piece produce a sound so echoing and grand they might as well swap the recording studio for a cave, and that they have in the past displayed a fondness for referencing art above music, I at first believed they were an offshoot from the now departed Wu Lyf, who shared similar traits. They're not, in fact, and the musical differences are important: despite the enormous sound, Money are tender and muted where Wu Lyf raged and raved. The Shadow of Heaven sounds like it could be one of those albums that's the start of something: as with the earliest releases of their labelmates Fleet Foxes, there's a sense of a band that is both instantly familiar but refreshingly different from its contemporaries.
Mystery surrounds Salford four piece Money. Originally a mix of art project and existing under various guises, their deliberately ambiguous moniker makes internet searches tricky, a fact not altered by a concerted attempt at keeping early exposure to a minimum. They posted arty videos with their music as the soundtrack only to take them down (that for Hold Me Forever was directed by Cillian Murphy – the 28 Days Later and Sunshine actor’s directorial debut – and remains online).
When Drowned In Sound met Manchester-based four-piece Money's Jamie Lee prior to their set at Festival No. 6, we weren't quite expecting his response concerning their debut. "We wanted it to live up to our expectations," he claimed before adding, "But I also feel like people were being slightly sympathetic towards us. I think they saw a band that didn't quite nail their first debut record, could have made a better one but showed some kind of potential." That genuine sense of disappointment upon reflection only adds to the endearing qualities of The Shadow Of Heaven: an exquisite album by anyone's standards.
Manchester’s MONEY may have already established themselves as laureates of the unconventionally enthralling live performance – eccentric but loveable frontman Jamie Lee is well-renowned for his outlandish monologues and unabashed smooching of audience members – but capturing the energy and passion of a live performance on record is easier said than done. Luckily, MONEY’s hotly-anticipated debut throws down the gauntlet for what a truly organic and emotive album should be. ‘The Shadow Of Heaven’ tells of finding meaning in moments of total despair, of discovering that you’re alone in the world and wholly embracing it.