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Matthew And The Atlas - Temple (Album Review)

Wednesday, 27 April 2016 Written by Graeme Marsh

Matthew Hegarty’s blend of classic folk and synths amassed considerable attention upon the release of his debut album under the Matthew and the Atlas moniker, ‘Other Rivers’, in 2014. Having supported Mumford & Sons in the early days, Hegarty was well versed in folk but his ability to blend those roots with a brush of electronica was spellbinding in the record’s finest moments: Into Gold, Pale Sun Rose and Counting Paths.

Contrastingly, his sophomore collection, ‘Temple’, retracts into a more stripped-back place, losing the synth soundscapes that made album one so compelling and often heading towards more minimalist territory, without retreating entirely to the banjo-heavy work of his early EPs.

Taking just three months to pen, after Hegarty set himself the target of writing a track per week, ‘Temple’ opens with the sublime Graveyard Parade, which possesses a sprawling chorus that is a thing of beauty.

Old Master’s folky beginnings disguise bigger ambitions before it unravels, subsequently soaring like a Ben Howard number from his own impressive second album, ‘I Forget Where We Were’.

Hegarty’s captivating vocals are stunning throughout and the emotional vulnerability he creates is mesmerising. Perhaps the best portrayal of his ability to enthral with little more than his trembling voice arrives with the fragility of Can’t You See, a cut that sees his vocal skills emerge from a gentle, minimalist mist. The grandiose Modern World is also home to a jaw-droppingly blissful performance.

The gorgeous Elijah is one of the album’s most impressive moments, its gentle acoustics blending with wispy backing vocals to produce a nailed-on candidate for the TV advert treatment. The up tempo On A Midnight Street, meanwhile, benefits from a splash of cinematic ‘80s glitz.

The album’s final two tracks encapsulate the overall mood in a serene microcosm. Firstly, the haunting, delicate Glacier conveys its sorrowful message, “It’s all right to give up”, before the closer, When The Light Hits The Water, recalls the beguiling qualities of Kate Bush’s This Woman’s Work with an exquisite combination of subtle piano and strings.

There is effortless bewitchment stamped on ‘Temple’, and the ability it has to create a feeling of total relaxation is astonishing. It’s a stronger collection overall than ‘Other Rivers’, despite perhaps lacking some of its magic, and provides proof that Matthew and the Atlas are beginning to create an impressive legacy of beautiful music.

Matthew and the Atlas Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed April 27 2016 - LONDON Oslo
Fri April 29 2016 - MANCHESTER Deaf Institute

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