Album review: Satellites - 02

Satellites - 02

Satellites - 02 - Credit: Archant

A surprising discovery, Satellites’ second record is stuffed with complex motifs and effects, cleverly deployed with a rich vocal for an invigorating, expansive listen.

Satellites is Johnny Vic, whose gentle but emotionally-wrought, piano-based 2012 debut album 01 was missed by all but the most ardent music fans.

It was re-released in January, but Vic’s already knocked together 02, another slab of confidently maudlin alt-rock lifted by some inspired programming and arrangements.

Vic’s smooth baritone, slightly lighter than Matt Berninger’s with a whiff of John Grant, informs a more contemplative, expansive take on the former’s band The National.

He takes his music seriously - Vic said what mattered about his last album was that it needed to be written - and it shows in reflective, doleful lyrics and purposeful songs that weave swooning, multi-tracked vocals and stuttering beats among brooding melodics.

Beg Steal & Borrow’s typically engaging arrangement of strings, guitar and glockenspiel steps in the shadow of The Delgados’ best work, The Great Eastern, while the alt-twee and muted trumpets of God Bless America reveals a dark humour.

Wasteland has a Radiohead feel about it, Vic commenting on man’s propensity to toxify or destroy natural habitats without blinking to a bleakly beautiful soundscape, a theme that resurfaces in the black rivers, dead seas and shrill strings on Hourglass.

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But it’s World At Your Feet’s languour, dressed with blissed-out trumpet and piano, that begins an inspired double-header that cements the album, with Madison Park Bell’s insistent, motorik love song that waxes and wanes with stadium-filling promise.

A seriously good album.

Rating: 4/5