A hazy, tranquil LP, 'The Sand and the Stars' aims at pure escapism. It was conceived in a beach hut and several of its tracks have wave sounds lapping across them. The concept was live, atmospheric recordings which provide a getaway from the claustrophobic city.
The city is supposed to be absent from this record, of which 'Ocean Song' is arguably the standout track. It's a distillation of all the best elements of the LP; ragged glory, guitars sparring, cutting, trading off jagged, stylish, fuzzed-up hooks over an excellent, insistent rhythm. Led by Kate Wright's gorgeous, hushed vocals, _'Ocean Song' possesses an emphatic chorus and a stylish coda, trumpets squalling, bassline solemn; great moments are what matter and Movietone magic up a great moment in this song.
Movietone have Rachel Coe, once singer for Flying Saucer Attack, and although Wright takes the majority of the lead vocals here, Coe is a hell of a second option. 'Let Night In', her understated piano/clarinet composition, is a highlight. "The city at night/rumbles in my ears", she sings and, well, we've all wanted to get away, some time. Elsewhere, 'We Rode On' enlists eight Movietone members: clarinets, cello, trumpet and banjo (no percussion) vie for listening space, whilst the waves crash in the background.
This is an LP which demands time and space, best heard when you're free to immerse yourself in it. 'Snow Is Falling', with its doleful clarinet/cello combination and judiciously emphatic double-bassline, provides a woozy headrush once it gets going. 'Beach Samba', the other seaside composition, is heavily reminiscent of Pram, until the classical instruments elevate it away from such territory.
Maybe 'Red Earth', with its well-meaning yet grating lyric about walking into a dream, goes a bit too far, but over this LP, Movietone, as a collective, show their impressive strength in depth. Anyone who looks out of a city window and wishes they could be some place else every now and again will thank them for 'The Sand and the Stars'.