Sleepers Union: Giant Spheres
By Jennifer Scott
I've asked a few people recently if they've heard this album by former Love's Ugly Children and Subliminals' front man Simon MacLaren, and one word that keeps being used is 'beautiful'. This is a dreamy, lush album (engineered and mixed by releasing label Turbine Records' Dale Cotton), that's mesmerising and intriguing. MacLaren's obvious revelling in wordplay makes the 14 tracks extremely visual and descriptive - a sharp contrast to the Subliminals' minimalism - with song titles such as The Acrobat Transcends, Cosmological Constantine and Psilocybin Boy. The vocals are fragile and lilting, enhanced by layers of backing vocals giving the songs a pop edge. It's a delightfully 'musicianly' album, with MacLaren the main player, although some guests feature. Title track Giant Spheres is instantly engaging with its soaring melody and haunting questions while others reflect an Eastern influence MacLaren has visited on other projects. But all former influences are very much in the shadows. In the foreground are glorious melodies and orchestration - I would love to hear some of these songs with lush strings added. Put it on, sit back and you will find yourself agreeing with the title of the last track and its cute cuckoo echoes - Life Is Beautiful.