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.
- Critics choice
Gravel-voiced Dire Straits founder Knopfler plays a few of the classics ('Money For Nothing', 'Romeo and Juliet', etc) alongside newer and rootsier compositions.
Watch Money's 'Hold Me Forever' video
Listen to Money on Spotify
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