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Longwave - If We Ever Live Forever (Album Review)

Monday, 04 November 2019 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Omar Kasrawi

After 10 years of silence it wouldn’t be surprising if many people had forgotten the name Longwave. Perhaps residents of their native New York would think differently, but for the rest of us the indie-rockers feel like a distant memory.

Being tagged as ‘mates of the Strokes’ at the turn of the millennium was never going to do anyone any favours, but in reality Longwave were more like a poor man’s Coldplay with a shoegaze touch. Harsh, maybe, given the understated, if a little beige, quality of some of their records, notably 2003’s ‘The Strangest Things’.

The 2008 LP ‘Secrets Are Sinister’ was the last we heard from Longwave, though, and that outing was bland at best when compared to their other efforts. And in that context it was more than a little surprising to see a reformation on the cards.

Frontman Steve Schiltz has been busy with his Hurricane Bells project, so the question on the lips of anyone who cared was whether or not a fifth album could right the ship when things had seemingly run their course.

The first fruits of the reunion came in the shape of Stay With Me, a single released in November 2018, and again it’s puzzling as to why there has been so much silence since then. Maybe the release was a little premature but, despite timescales, musically it felt as though nothing much had changed. Dabs of echoey guitars, a shoegazey vibe and stereotypical indie-rock akin to the likes of Idlewild were all present and correct to give it a floating element as rubbery bass did its best to elevate the action.

Similarly, now the rest of the album has finally caught up there are few surprises. Opener Before You Disappear battles against the norm with ringing bells and scrawled guitars but there’s a feeling it’s a little indistinct. Dreamers Float Away is inoffensive but also unmemorable, as is the dreamy feel of the title track and melodically uninspired Echo Bravo.

The more jangly 1x1 (Disorder) fares a little better as a poppy spark is injected into the album, its melodies considerably more effective than its peers, but things go a little too Coldplay elsewhere. I’ll Be The First and  It’s Not Impossible both sound like poorer cousins of Chris Martin’s band. Great Northwest, however, is excellent. A moodier cut, it plays out to great effect, and its shimmering predecessor The Trick also delivers thanks to slightly heavier jangly guitars.

Ten years is an awfully long time in music. Many things can change over that period, but Longwave are not one of them. If you were happy with what they brought to the table in the past then you’ll be happy with ‘If We Ever Live Forever’. Equally, though, if you always felt they came up short then you won’t be changing your mind anytime soon.

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