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A Light Far Out

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Album Review

The full return of the Wake to recording activity after an initial restart in 2009 might almost seem more quixotic than anything else, but what's surprisingly satisfying about 2012's A Light Far Out is how sweetly perfect it is in the end, a showcase for the central duo of Caesar and Carolyn Allen continuing on from their Sarah Records years as if there hadn't been any interruption. Then again, that's not quite true: without radically reinventing anything, there's evidence throughout that the Wake know fully well what year it is without completely surrendering their aesthetic. Thus whether it's the tinge of classic Timbaland rhythms underscoring "Methodist" or the polite glitch on "If the Ravens Leave," it's a series of subtle acknowledgments to the years, all while serenely beautiful and often melancholy arrangements and songs softly unfold across the album's length. "Stockport" starts it all with the kind of gentle groove one might expect, less jangle than almost Pulp-like dreams of something else, rinky-dink end-of-the-pier keyboard runs and all (perfectly matching the cover art), while the guitar wash and blast at the end provide just the right amount of loudness, part gaze and still serene. Caesar handles most of the singing throughout, but Allen's stepping to the fore on "Starry Day" is a calm comedown to the immediately preceding "The Back of Beyond," the album's peppiest song along with the excellent instrumental "Faintness." The highlight, perhaps appropriately, is the lengthy title track, with the midsong break and switch to a really lovely guitar/keyboard-led conclusion sounding like the majestic moment intended as a payoff for listening to the album as a whole. It's all very formal but it works very well.


Formed: 1981 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Glasgow, Scotland's the Wake was never terribly prolific, but with a recording career that spanned a dozen years, they were one of the longest-lasting bands on the British indie pop scene. Formed in 1981, the original lineup was singer/guitarist Gerard "Caesar" McInulty (who had briefly played in a pre-stardom Altered Images), keyboardist Carolyn Allen, drummer Steven Allen, and bassist Robert Gillespie. Yes, as in Bobby Gillespie, the irrepressible hipster who later played the Moe Tucker-style drums...
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