Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sorry - Dub Tractor


Dub Tractor
City Centre Offices.

SCQ Rating: 80%

Hideout was something of a rarity; a record I struggled to find, wrestled to love and then slid into comfortably once I stopped focusing so damned hard. In the months following its purchase, that 2006 effort by Anders Remmer found itself increasingly chosen for my I-Pod and home stereo, as if its somber tones immediately brought back cool Autumn breezes I first took the album walking through. Given its gradual way of winning me over, Hideout now defends a hard-fought place in my regular rotation…; a feat I wouldn’t have predicted even a year ago. So the surprise of Dub Tractor’s return was met with great satisfaction when Remmer’s new album, Sorry, blew me away at first listen. Boasting deeper songwriting and brilliant soundscapes, Sorry accomplishes what Hideout could not; catching listeners off-guard with emotive electronic pop that refuses to fade into mood-music.

This immediate evolution is felt on opener ‘And You Are Back’; what sounds like an echoed piano, cut into loops and fed with reverb, drones harmoniously to molasses-slow beats under Remmer’s hazy vocals. Those details – fuzzy guitar lines, liquid percussion and subtle, dubby bass - may sound in line with Dub Tractor’s well-trodden territory, yet the songwriting has undergone a massive upgrade. As foreshadowed by the more pronounced vocals on ‘And You Are Back’, Sorry breaks the long-running tradition of only repeating lyrics that are in the song’s title, inevitably giving these compositions more heart and mood. On the late-night gloaming of ‘I Don’t Get It Anymore’, Remmer illustrates a strained relationship with the lyrical directness of New Order's Bernard Sumner while, on ‘It All Went Wrong’, he takes a more narrative bent. Not all songs delve into full-on verses the way these aforementioned examples do, but it’s worth noting that these forward-thinking Dub Tractor tunes are among the best on Sorry, especially ‘Fall In Love Like This’, where a processed guitar rumbles menacingly over Remmer’s innocent vocal hook. These tracks supplement the tempered beauty of past albums with a potent dose of shoegaze, triggering his songs to push forward instead of pacing on-the-spot.

The rest of the time, Sorry isn’t so much a new direction as a refreshed commitment to what Remmer does best. The familiar warmth of ‘That Won’t Heal By Itself’, a one-phrase mantra of soft chimes and muddled acoustics, is as stationary as the buzzing ‘A lot of Work is Done’, and these pillars should support a refuge for older fans untouched by Dub Tractor’s growing style. Split between his classic, textural sound and his emerging voice as a songwriter, Sorry is Dub Tractor’s most vital record to date, dripping with deeper emotion and new promise.

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