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Six. By Seven - Love And Peace And Sympathy (Album Review)

Thursday, 04 July 2013 Written by Graeme Marsh

In an alternate universe, Chris Olley could quite easily be as widely feted as Noel Gallagher, Kelly Jones or Kevin Shields as indie royalty. He possesses an impressive songwriting ability, whether with his band, Six. By Seven, or in solo work released as part of his Krautrock project, Twelve.

‘Love And Peace And Sympathy’ is the first studio effort from Six. By Seven since ‘If Symptoms Persist, Kill Your Doctor’ some six years ago. The group disbanded in 2008, leaving Olley free to pursue his solo career, but following a chance encounter with former Placebo drummer Steve Hewitt the band reformed in 2012. With Hewitt now behind the kit, the band boasts the strongest line-up since their formation in 1996.

CHANGE opens the album with a slow, twanging guitar before the arrival of keyboards, further layers of guitar and simple percussion.  Its low-key beginning continues until the band kicks in, causing the hairs on the back of the neck to stand on end.

Five of the nine tracks here exceed the six minute mark and the second of these is SYMPATHY, a song that follows a similar path to CHANGE. It’s an early highlight, with its slow build evoking another spine-tingling moment with the addition of some gorgeous harmonies.

All the songs here have been available in demo form for some time, but the album versions are often unrecognisable from the originals. This is perhaps most evident on TRUCE, the record’s third track.  

Reaching an epic eight minutes, the song again builds on basic foundations before a repeated thunderous guitar strike announces the arrival of Hewitt, who demonstrates his ability with some superb drumming. His work lifts the track to another level and as the pattern is repeated for a second time, Olley states he wants to “call this thing a truce”.

MORE again deals with relationships and is a short, up-tempo song built on fuzzy guitar noise and impressive drums. Standing In The Light is driven by a repetitive guitar line that permeates the entire track, with droning guitars, tribal drums and James Flowers’ keyboards adding layers to another slow burning gem.

The Rise And Fall And Decline Of Everything is probably the most radio-friendly, danceable track on the album, with its structure more routine than the majority of its companions and a guitar-led instrumental break splitting the verse and chorus. COLDER is a slow motion, reflective look back at the past and the track is driven by swirling keyboards, incessant distorted guitar and repeated lyric of “now I won’t ever give up”.

The tempo switches again for CRYING, another slice of excellent indie-pop on which Olley delivers one of this collection’s most impressive vocal performances. Album closer Fall Into Your Arms returns to the slow burn format, with the chorus accompanied by noisy, fuzzy guitars reminiscent of the Jesus And Mary Chain before ending in a cataclysmic wall of noise.

With Olley pouring his emotions into each song, ‘Love And Peace And Sympathy’ is the most complete offering the band has produced.  Focusing on the classic sound of the band – layered, guitar-based songs that build into a crescendo of noise – it will please their underground support and could also win them a larger following with its consistently high quality. In short, it’s a must-have.

 



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