Full Frequency Sonics/Republic of Music (label)
08 June 2018 (released)
24 July 2018
Ah, to be an ageing music writer... April Towers, aka Alex Noble and Charlie Burley, a Nottingham duo producing synth-based electro-guitar songs, cite Radiohead, Interpol and eighties acts such as Depeche Mode as chief influences. Clarity comes at the price of time. Eighties electro acts, once blasted out of fashion by nineties Britpop, Nu-Metal and Rap are now being re-evaluated and recognised for their worth. With music, especially, it seems it was ever this way. Each generation cruelly shrugs off the taste of its parents. The new becomes the old, the old becomes classic and eventually is re-assimilated back into the fold.
This not to criticise April Towers in any way. What would the Stones, Led Zeppelin or even The Beatles have been if not for the groundwork laid down by blues, country and folk? And where would Dylan be if not for Woody Guthrie? In the end, it is not what you are doing but how well you do it that counts and April Towers do it very well indeed. On Certified Freaky, opener ‛Takes One To Know One’ makes a powerful statement. A stuttering deep guitar-riff sets the pace, before bright petal rhythms unfold with rolling artificial waves, glittering electro-drums and some pretty wonderful vocals.
‛Modern Pysche’ is a wonderful track. Like Gary Numan and New Order, April Towers squeeze plenty of power, pathos and emotion from their electronic instrumentation. Bright, clarion keyboards and jangling drum-machines entwine with muscular synths, yet the duo imbue the whole with a subtlety and naturalness which is rare to find. The lyric:“What do I say, to a brand new day?” sums up the modern condition perfectly. In a world seemingly overloaded with information and entertainments, how does one escape the accelerating merry-go-round to even find a chance to centre oneself? Modern Psyche, indeed.
‛The Last Light’, a slower affair, shimmers into life with layers of atmospherics, subtle reverbs, block-chords of piano and finger-click percussion. Happily, the duo never resort to the cliched floor-filling big chorus. They possess more invention than that, rolling forward with looping drums, bright keyboards and some lovely choral touches. ‛Age Of The Offended’ races out of the blocks with a big-beat, roller-coaster keys and captivating chord-changes. Album closer ‛Do You Listen’ starts out as mid-tempo ghostly ballad, with echoing piano and deep washes of sound before a shuffling beat kicks in. It is very clear that the lads have salvaged the very best of their influences, but nothing here could be mistaken for anything other than contemporary. No mean feat at all.
There is no doubt April Towers have all the ingredients needed to go far. They wring more variety from their chosen instruments on Certified Freaky than many bands do over their entire career. Moreover, they make it seem effortless. When compared to their contemporaries, April Towers feel less commercial, far less self-indulgent and, strangely, more human by a long way.