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What took Sennen so long? It’s been three years and they didn’t call, they barely even wrote, with just a few singles acting as fleeting postcards since 2005 when their mini-album Widows (review) set our souls afire and made a small dent in the end-of-year staff poll, though they were probably too busy shoegazing to notice.
We can forgive this delay on the strength of Where The Light Gets In, their long-overdue debut album proper smelling like Explosions In The Sky and Mogwai, taking in their expansive, multi-instrumental nature and filtering in tunefully tender vocal melodies. A mixture of the instrumental and the conventionally vocal, here post-rock moments are bolted onto pop songs and, for good measure, mixed with the occasional interesting twist, from ‘Blackout’ and a chorus that seems to loop forever, to the swaggering, fuzzy, almost Ian Brown-recalling breakdown of ‘Just Wanted To Know’ suddenly reinventing itself for two minutes of steadily-accelerating breakneck rock in its instrumental finale.
Rarely is a lonesome voice heard, for the most part the vocals either altogether absent or arranged into wistful, soft-focus harmonies. At the album’s summit lies the crossover point between the mix of styles, where shoegazing rock slopes out in order for the stargazing, Godspeed-y twinkle of the instrumental title track to seamlessly fade in, before its sweeping strings and stirring piano too depart in favour of the uplifting melody of ‘Falling For You’ and its two-part harmonies so stunningly pretty it could be forgiven for dropping jaws on first listen.
Naturally, the beauty of these high points does relegate anything lesser to the status of merely adequate, though these points are still few and generally arise from problems with Sennen’s chosen sound. After a while the pillow-soft vocals and snail’s pace tend to become a little sickly or gushing; ‘Here It Is’ suffers particularly, whilst even the touches of Seafood can’t save ‘Fear Home’ from being one of the album’s main offenders. There’s also the small, pedantic yet still irritating issue of some overly-vigorous compression settings meaning that in the rare moments where the album explodes into top gear, occasionally a beat of the kick drum will munch bits out of the rest of the track like some volume-activated hungry-hungry hippo.
No massive problem though; once the obstacles are forgotten the only real task is trying to identify exactly what’s so special about this album. Maybe it’s that Where The Light Gets In seems so considered, like every point was precisely plotted, its relaxed tempo standing testament to how Sennen just won’t be rushed. Even ‘Sennen Enjoy Life’, taken on its own just a minute of cymbal rolls like thunder in the distance and some bashing of the guitars, finds some context when heard in its proper place on this album. Effortlessly graceful, it all seems to have been worth the wait.
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