Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Listen: Left With Pictures - "Terra Firma"

photo by Jonathan Hyde
Well it's about damn time! After being consumed for the entirety of 2010 with their In Time project that saw British orchestra pop purveyors Left With Pictures writing/recording, and creating music videos for a brand new song a month and the subsequent release of the songs as an album, Left With Pictures essentially disappeared. Not entirely because they were active on social media (mainly to share thoughts of other's musical happenings they were excited about) and the odd show here or there while they worked on an all new album of songs. Finally 5 years later, they have an offering in the form of Afterlife.

While still not entirely certain of what happened in that five year span, "Terra Firma" sees Left With Pictures making a surprising leap into rarely charted territory - namely stripping away the strings that characterized their sound. If you're used to Left With Pictures vibrant melodies and orchestral flourishes "Terra Firma" is sure to be a shock to the system to find strings replaced entirely with synths. Unlike Left With Pictures past foray into synth pop "This Light", "Terra Firma" is a much more somber affair complimented by founding member Toby Knowles' bartitone.

And then halfway through the sparsely textured tale of loss, things take a turn. A synth return in place of the piano, the strings enter, and harmonies brighten up the rather dour narrative. It's due to this sudden forceful brightening; of harmonic, stratospheric highs that give the last verse the entirety of its power. Left With Pictures have always balanced artful arrangement with intelligent lyricism but "Terra Firma" seems like a leveling up of both for them. They're so concerned with the tale that they're weaving that pop hooks don't really occur but they're competent at not only songwriting but composition that the instrumental informs the lyrics before they even happen. The last minute or so of "Terra Firma" reward the patient listener with winsome moments of not-quite pop but enjoyable melodic/harmonic work nevertheless.

It may have been five years since their last batch of new tunes but "Terra Firma" displays that it's been five years well spent as Left With Pictures now marry the acoustic with the newfound interest in the electronic while also staying true to their smart chamber pop that got them noticed in the first place. Welcome back, Left With Pictures, we've missed you.

Left With Pictures third full length record Afterlife is due April 29th on Organ Grinder Records.

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