Aereogramme used to give it to you rough. While they have always created keyboard-driven, metallurgic power balladry tuned perfectly to the alternative ear, Aereogramme used to SCREAM. The songs would build beautifully, the guitar squall would gush in, everything would break and then the painful, vehement howling would commence. The mood was comely but raw and very, very visceral.
For their third LP to even be recorded, it seems a lot had to change after lead singer Craig B. was stricken with a forcibly nasty throat infection that left him literally speechless for months. Hence the long wait for a follow up to 2003’s Sleep and Release, aside from a few scattered EPs and collaborations (with ISIS, if you need proof of their metal cred). Resultantly, My Heart Has a Wish that You Would Not Go takes those years of reparation and maintains the savage guitar blasts and programmed atmospherics of earlier efforts, yet now Craig B. croons and soars where he might have previously bawled and caterwauled. It’s a more subdued album and while it still radiates with the prog-rock virtuosity expected from these Glaswegian heroes, to match the tones of the music to the health of the singer the ardor has (understandably) cooled a few degrees.
However, making the rage less obtrusive on an album is no excuse for the grating accessibility that is rearing its ugly, glossy head here. To illuminate the disparity between the Aereogramme of past and the Aereogramme of late, one needs only listen to tracks “Finding a Light,” “Living Backwards” and “Trenches,” chronicled squarely in the center of the album. “Living Backwards” is a seven-minute powerhouse that passes in a rush of sad, ghostly vocals, screeching riffage, chugging crescendos and pure rock that builds and attacks ecstatically without any boyish screaming. But the track is book-ended by songs that sound by comparison merely pleasant, falling into the radio-ready realm of easy alt-rock. The contrast brings to mind lifestyle bands like Keane or Snow Patrol—something the high-rise dwellers can sip pinot to. Shudder. But taking into account the medical necessity, I have to cut them some slack.
I just hope this scattered travesty disguised as transformation does not proceed any further, lest I mutter “Aereogramme: RIYL Coldplay.”