Apricot Rail ~ Quarrels

Quarrels Front Cover 1000pxSomewhat rare for a post-rock album, the press release for Quarrels includes the advertising phrase, “features the singles ‘Basket Case’ and ‘Surry Hills”.  Singles?  Since when do post-rock bands have singles?  Are these going to be on 45s?  (That would be amazing, but no.)  Apricot Rail is obviously on the more accessible side of post-rock, but with a purpose: to bring the sound to the masses.  Considering the length of these tracks, none over 6:35, the sextet has a shot at success.

It’s not clear who chose the singles – this was once the terrain of A & R, but few labels have such a department anymore.  But each of these tracks could be a hit.  These days, that means anything from airplay to soundtrack inclusion to ringtones.  “Basket Case” falls squarely into the traditional post-rock mode, tempered and languid, with a series of peaks and valleys.  The woodwind adds a sophisticated touch.  While there’s only a humble crescendo, the track picks up the pace for its understated finale.  “Surry Hills” is a bit lighter, highlighted by the presence of an metallic glockenspiel and the second-half addition of an electronic beat.  To these ears, it’s the catchier choice, more representative of the band as a whole.

Perhaps less representative is the unusual “Running With an Egg on a Spoon”, which would make a fine tourist advert for Glasgow.  (“Come to Glasgow, come to Glasgow my darling, and we’re never coming home again”).  The odd part is that the band is from Perth.  Apricot Rail is not a band that features much singing – most is restricted to oohs and aahs – so someone must have really enjoyed their vacation.  An alternate possibility is that the song is meant to reflect the plea of a lover, in the same manner as Dave Loggins’ “Please Come to Boston”.  In this case, the egg might represent the fragile relationship.  If so, I say, don’t go!  Let him prove his love by coming to Perth!

By the end of the album, the sextet’s variety of instrumentation turns out to be its greatest asset.  The best track (and worst title) may be “Cicadas Lay Eggs in Her Ears/Cicadas Part Two”, which shows off all the band’s strengths yet would not have been a good single.  In this piece, the band demonstrates its ability to combine post-rock, rock and modern classical music to form a cross-genre meld.  After hearing this track, fans who purchase the album for the singles may find themselves falling in love with the whole.  (Richard Allen)

Available here

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