Cathedral Bells – Velvet Spirit
Though we’re only a few months into the year I’ve already noticed a recurring trend for albums in 2020: a lack of cohesion. Collections of otherwise good songs that don’t feel connected in any meaningful way. Velvet Spirit is a record that bucks the curve. An album that is greater than the sum of its parts, one that almost feels like a single piece designed to be consumed all in one go.
If that sounds like a daunting prospect then rest easy as it only clocks in at about half an hour, about as short as an album can be while still being called an album. It’s a record that emphasises quality over quantity, but manages to counteract its brief run-time with its lush and expansive arrangements. With vocals that drift by like some half heard whisper on the wind, melodies as bright and colourful as a field of wild flowers, and a gorgeous hazy atmosphere that permeates the entire record, it’s the kind of album you can just get lost in. Velvet Spirit is a dreamlike fantasy world where time works differently. You could spend what feels like an age soaking in its vibrant soundscapes only to be sucked back to reality to find that only half an hour has passed.
Though it is best enjoyed as a whole, that does not diminish the strength of the individual tracks. It is a very consistent release with all the filler stripped away. It’s hard to pick out highlights here; granted this is not a record blessed with much variation, but it does mean that each song is a perfect little microcosm of the album as a whole. Each contains the same bright melodies, kaleidoscopic synths, fuzzy psychedelic guitar and propulsive post punk rhythm section in varying concentrations. Each track a portal back into the same dream world that hits you like a cool breeze on a stifling summer’s day. This isn’t a record that reinvents the wheel, it doesn’t push boundaries or do anything new and exciting, and in essence that’s the whole point. Velvet Spirit is a place to retreat to when life gets you down, one that feels safe and familiar. It’s an idyllic sanctuary for dream pop fans; musical escapism at it’s finest.