Tuesday 26 May 2020

Thousand Yard Stare - The Panglossian Momentum

Even The Stars favourites Thousand Yard Stare cement their return with the release of their third longer player, the sublime The Panglossian Momentum.

Five-piece Slough troubadours Thousand Yard Stare have been favourites of ours since their debut EP dropped in 1990 on their own distinct Stifled Aardvark label, producing many classic pop songs such as Wonderment, No Score After Extra Time and Buttermouth. On the strength of their early EPS, they signed to a major label which resulted in two LPs - Hands On (1992) and Mappamundi (1993) – before splitting soon after.

The genuine one-off return in 2015 was supposed to be just that, but it gathered pace, resulting in the excellent new “live” album Live At Electric Studios (2016), festival appearances, tours and a double EP in 2017. The Panglossian Momentum is the next step for the band, who now reside all over the UK. The chemistry and spirit they have always possessed is still there and this new album is the first written by the band as an album, rather than collections of songs they have had available at the time. As a result, The Panglossian Momentum should be played as a whole, and it sounds all the better for it.

The prelude Cresta (Seachange) gets the album underway. A gentle, patient, beautifully produced introduction. This atmospheric almost Lennon-esq opener sounds like a new beginning and sets the mood for the rest of the album. The band shift up a gear with the first single taken from the album It Sparks! The delightful orchestral introduction of It Sparks! soon gives way and morphs into one of those songs Thousand Yard Stare have always done well – driving drums from Dom, a commanding bass from Sean, with Giles Duffy and Kevin Moxon feeding off each other on guitar – with an assured vocal from Stephen Barnes.

Schism Algorithm follows and upon its release in January, we said “opening with some impressive drums and bass, Schism Algorithm is a groove-based jam, thus marking a departure from their recent work. Stephen's vocals sound as fresh as ever whilst guitarists Giles and Kevin go for a more Led Zep sound”. For me, it is one of the standout tracks of the album and I look forward to hearing it live.

The tone of the album changes with the seven-minute Spandrels. Described by Stephen as the best song lyrically he has written, it strips Thousand Yard Stare back to a more simplistic sound, with only acoustic guitars, allowing Stephen to take centre stage; “won’t you please let me know, how this ending unfolds, I just want you to know, that we just can’t ignore this anymore” he reflects. It’s possibly the closest the band have come to The Smiths, a band they were often compared to by the music press in the early 90s.

The mood changes again as side two of the album begins, opening with the three-minute pop of Sleepsound. There’s more of that harder edged guitar sound first explored on Schism Algorithm before Precious Pressures explores even more new territory for the band. This time, hypnotic synths dominate with the dual guitars chipping in subtly. It is much more dance orientated than anything else on the album, the most euphoric, and another standout track. Sense The Panacea continues in the same vein and is almost prophetic.

Thousand Yard Stare have saved the best for last as the album closes with the magnificent A Thousand Yards (A Panglossian Momentum).  An epic tune, delivered at a pace allowing all of the band to have their own space. It takes their sound to a new level and is more of a symphony than a song, which is no bad thing and rounds off The Panglossian Momentum in great style.

The Panglossian Momentum is their best and most accomplished record to date. The band have demonstrated once again that they have a creative flair to write and produce intelligent, timeless pop music. That a band can produce an album of this worth in their 31st year is remarkable. We hope we get to hear this album in the live arena soon as by the band’s own admissions, this is their preferred environment.

Thousand Yard Stare's official website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

The album can be preordered from their store.

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