Money – 'The Shadow of Heaven' album review
Soaring, expansive and unapologetically spiritual – a majestic indie debut
Wed Aug 21 2013
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Heaven, as Talking Heads once sang, is a place where nothing ever happens – and a lack of action is about the only thing wrong with ‘The Shadow of Heaven’, the debut album by Money. After forming at Manchester University and going through phases as Youth and Books, they’re currently known less for their music than for the big, philosophical proclamations (‘Everyone in Manchester is symbolically dead’ – oh Morrissey, so much to answer for) that frontman Jamie Lee scatters throughout interviews.
That should change when ‘The Shadow of Heaven’ is released. It’s an unapologetically spiritual album, packed with more of those grandiloquent, quasi-religious statements: ‘It’s a shame that God is dead’; ‘Heaven is real’; ‘The cruelty of godliness in us is His loneliness.’ So it’s just as well that the music follows through: Lee’s breathy choirboy voice, multiplied and echoing, soars above or sinks gently into layers of liquid guitar, quiet but insistent snare drum rattles and stark piano chords. There is majesty here, thanks partly to judicious use of reverb (locked into the ‘cathedral’ setting) that makes the music drift like fog on the sea.
There are influences, of course: The Verve on ‘Bluebell Fields’, Big Star on ‘Black’, The Cure on ‘Cold Water’. But they’re treated in the same the way that post-rock bands like Sigur Rós and Explosions In The Sky have approached conventional rock structures and textures: elements are broken down or opened them up, letting them grow organically or hang in echoing space. (You could almost call it ‘post-indie’.) ‘Who’s Going to Love You Now’ tumbles and crashes, ‘Goodnight London’ is an enthralling early-hours piano ballad, and ‘Hold Me Forever’ is… well, bloody enormous – easily expansive enough to justify all the band’s big talk, at any rate.
It’s a long album and it’s not all heavenly. ‘Black’, the last track, feels like something of a retread; ‘Letter to Yesterday’ is disappointingly conventional next to some of the stronger songs here; and ‘Bluebell Fields’, though brilliant, has the faintest whiff of Coldplay to it. But that doesn’t matter so much when set against the moments that make ‘The Shadow of Heaven’ a must-have – including the album’s first thirty seconds, in which Lee’s falsetto reverberates, solo, around the album’s sonic cathedral. It’s as close to a religious experience as any indie album will come this year.
- Rated as: 4/5
Kurt Weill’s librettist was none other than revolutionary director and playwright Bertolt Brecht, who purported to believe that his scathing satire on rampant capitalism, subversively presented in the bourgeois form of opera, would cause a riot. He was right, it did. But that was back in 1930, when Nazi sympathisers disrupted performances and the Wall Street Crash was fresh in the memory. While we may not be inspired to overthrow the state by director John Fulljames’s glitzy production, it is highly entertaining. The extremely visual show really comes to life in Act II and a coup de theatre in which Es Devlin’s set design sees a single shipping container unfold into a towering wall of them, all neon lit and functioning as bars and brothels.Brecht’s storyline sees a trio of criminals on the run found a new city where food, sex, fighting and drinking are the most important aspects of its culture, and the worst crime is to have no money. Meanwhile, Weill’s score may surprise many who think of him as just a decadent cabaret merchant; the wealth and variety of his music seems unrivalled – from toe-tapping songs and jazz work-outs, to romantic opera, antiphonal choruses and even modernist atonality.Kurt Streit is Jimmy McIntyre, the hard-drinking idealist who falls victim to Mahagonny’s (im)moral code. Mezzo Christine Rice is best as Jenny, a goodtime girl who arrives in the city on the back of a lorry and embraces all the city has to offer. Soprano Anne Sofie von Otter is tad stra
Watch Money's 'Hold Me Forever' video
- Rated as: 5/5
- Rated as: 4/5
- Rated as: 3/5
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