Epic 45 taste of memories. They taste of yellow light and heavy furniture. They taste of fireplaces if you live in the temperate zone and of ceiling fans if you're from the tropics. They manage to make music that sounds like memories, and it's usually thanks to the use of some cleverly applied cassette tape noises.
When Weathering opens with 'People Say This Place Is Slowly Dying', you wonder if Epic 45 have mellowed out a bit. The track has a languid, though not lazy, quality about it; a chilly morning spent greeting a sleepy sun from under the covers, as opposed to a lethargic weekend lie-in. Even the crashing guitar towards the end of the song sounds a wee bit complacent, sloping gently upwards to generate that leaves you with an unsatisfying so-close-yet-so-far feeling.
It all starts to make sense when we meet the visibly discontent 'The Village is Asleep'. We observe we have a protagonist on our hands who fancies himself a bit of a Holden Caulfield - a hypothesis verified towards the end of the album by a convenient Catcher in the Rye reference in 'Ghosts I Have Known' - and has a bewildering tendency to punctuate his thoughts with snippets from 'Windmills of Your Mind' ("wheels within wheels/circles within circles"). His dissatisfaction is evident from the outset: a bitter "I've got to get out of this place...don't know where I'm heading" muttered through clenched teeth. There's an instrumental crash here too, but this one is far more successful in transforming the mood from an initial bitterness to one more joyous and hopeful.
Skating past the Goreckian strings on 'Evening Silhouettes' we arrive at 'With Our Backs to the City' and this is where the adventure ends. Ben and Rob adopt an uncharacteristic falsetto to repeatedly murmur a heartbreaking "crawl away". Four of six minutes are enough spent moping and this implied defeat is finally drowned in a gloopy puddle of dark, ambient sounds.
And that's when Epic 45 return to doing what they do best. The remaining tracks on the album are step-by-step nostalgia. 'Summer Message' is a lovely little foil to the ominous reverberations that preceded it - a pretty female vocal opening up the track, trademark cassette-tape lyrics making up the rest of it. Soulmates 'Afternoon, Shadowed' and 'The Weather is not Your Friend' sound like familiar thunderstorms and cliffs battered with rain. The seven minutes spanned by 'These Walks Saved Us' don't even seem adequate to cover the lifetime of memories packed into the song. And finally, to bring us back to the disenchanted youngster we met at the start of the album, we have 'Weathering' and 'Washed Out'. 'Weathering' in particular, is a flood of glorious relief. A softly moaned "home" telling us all we need to know about his present state of mind, and 'Washed Up' closing the door quietly on a reclaimed, freshly-appreciated bedroom.
Despite the initial angst and later tranquility that could only represent the mood swings of an adolescent (or possibly be symptomatic of a midlife crisis, but let's go with the more romantic option) Weathering sounds mature and, even by Epic 45 standards, restrained. It's more the calculation of Slides than the emotional spontaneity of In All The Empty Houses. Nevertheless, like both, it plays as if it were a storybook.
8Radhika Takru's Score