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Matthew and the Atlas - Morning Dancer (Album Review)

Friday, 10 May 2019 Written by Graeme Marsh

Three albums in and Matthew and the Atlas seem to be in a position to capitalise on all aspects of their previous work. Matt Hegarty’s adventure started with some folky EPs, followed by the synth-based 2014 debut album ‘Other Rivers’. ‘Temple’ then retreated to a more stripped down approach, but with ‘Morning Dancer’ we’re treated to a more eclectic collection.

This time, along with teaming up with producer Ali Chant (Youth Lagoon, Gruff Rhys), Hegarty enlisted his touring band for recording. With synths largely given a backseat ride throughout, electric guitars and flecks of brass somewhat unexpectedly take centre stage at various moments. Once the surprise subsides, they stand out as the two key elements that give this album its life blood.

Magical lead single Pyres gave a sparkling insight into Hegarty’s latest change of direction, blending the guitars and horns into compelling presence alongside his trademark emotive vocals.

Album curtain raiser Plaything, another single, ventures into similar territory as the combination shows its power when wielded thoughtfully. Jangly electric guitars and driving bass then provide another winner in Waging A War, where an instrumental break leaves us yearning for more of the same.

Next, though, the band deviate for a minimalist pairing, Low and Tower Above the Sun. The former pairs a glitzy ‘80s backdrop that could have appeared in any number of John Hughes films with brass injections, while the latter is a haunting effort akin to Nick Drake.

The bubbly Begin Again breathes vibrant life back into the record after these two quieter moments, and the Byrdsian jangle of High Fire boasts a scintillating outro that’s over too soon. The compelling synth soundscapes the band have used so well in the past may be harder to find here, but they do underpin the excellent Halo. Here, a haunting melody is played out in a couple of guises for possibly the biggest highlight on the album.

Remaining exemplary throughout, as it has on all of Matthew and the Atlas’s outings, is Hegarty’s magnificent vocal passion. And that, coupled with his excellent songwriting ability, remains their biggest draw. ‘Morning Dancer’ manages to cover much of their past ground with subtle twists here and there that amount to another top notch record from a band that deserves a place in anyone’s heart.

Matthew and the Atlas Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun May 12 2019 - BRIGHTON Patterns
Mon May 13 2019 - BRISTOL THE FLEECE
Tue May 14 2019 - CARDIFF Globe
Thu May 16 2019 - LONDON Omeara
Fri May 17 2019 - NOTTINGHAM Bodega Social Club
Sat May 18 2019 - BIRMINGHAM Castle and Falcon
Mon May 20 2019 - NORWICH Norwich Arts Centre
Tue May 21 2019 - MANCHESTER Deaf Institute
Wed May 22 2019 - LIVERPOOL Leaf
Fri May 24 2019 - LEEDS Wardrobe
Mon May 27 2019 - GLASGOW Stereo Cafe Bar
Tue May 28 2019 - EDINBURGH Mash House
Wed May 29 2019 - BELFAST Voodoo
Thu May 30 2019 - DUBLIN Grand Social
Wed November 20 2019 - LONDON EartH (Evolutionary Arts Hackney)

Click here to compare & buy Matthew And The Atlas Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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