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The Things We Make

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Album Review

At a time when teen pop fluff ruled the airwaves and one-trick pony nu-metal was wrongly seen as a sort of savior of rock, British band Six by Seven released a dark, atmospheric album of raging guitars and emotional songwriting. The Things We Make is a passionate rock album that calls to mind both the moody music of Pink Floyd and the artistry and melodic sense of the Velvet Underground. Through ten songs, the band displays a complex matrix of inspirations; "European Me," for instance, sounds like a collaboration between Joy Division and Bardo Pond. "For You" speeds along like a U2 anthem infused with the abstraction of Radiohead. The songs are as personal as they are aggressive, and the combination makes for some truly exhilarating moments. Fuzzy, distorted guitars buzz throughout the album, creating a cool, modern psychedelic feel not dissimilar to that of Clinic's masterpiece Internal Wrangler. One gets the sense that the album might be a lost classic, stored away in Roger Waters' attic. It's virtually impossible not to be caught up in the decadent power of "Brilliantly Cute," which sees the band building a waterfall of cascading drums and ringing bass guitar. When the band plays at its cohesive peak, which it does on nearly every song here, Six by Seven suggests an accomplished, emotional counterpoint to Death in Vegas' The Contino Sessions. "88-92-96" perhaps best displays the Pink Floyd influence. The song is a mini-epic of pessimistic vocals and sonic textures. Chris Olley effects an almost note-perfect Waters tone midway through the song, and the band builds tension through wailing guitars. It's quite clear that the members of Six by Seven took their time to perfect the songs on The Things We Make. Their dedication, their attitude, and their sonic attack all derive from the band's intensity and focus. The Things We Make rocks harder, and with more style, than most albums of its time.


Formed: 1991 in Nottingham, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

British drone-pop quintet Six by Seven was formed in Nottingham, England in 1991 by singer/guitarist Chris Olley, guitarist Sam Hempton, organist James Flower, bassist Paul Douglas and drummer Chris Davis. Initial buzz on the band was strong, but after a disastrous Leicester gig all label interest seemed to dissipate, forcing Six by Seven to self-release their debut single, "European Me," in the autumn of 1997. Hailed as "one of the all-time great debut singles" by the NME, the record sold out in...
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The Things We Make, Six by Seven
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