Amber Arcades – European Heartbreak

Her second album contains a real maturation of sound.
Label: Heavenly Recordings
Released: 28th September 2018
Rating: ★★★

Political music, in its nature, is often specific to the artist making it; there is no one form it should take, or rules as to how it should sound. Amber Arcades’ second album ‘European Heartbreak’ is a testament to this, a heartfelt confession birthed from the uncertain and unstable times we’re living in.

“Goodnight Europe, no one really got you I suppose it’s hardly a protest but I’m sad to see you go”, laments Dutch-born Annelotte De Graaf on the album’s lead single ‘Goodnight Europe’. The initial release of this track implied not only a gentler and more considered approach than the higher tempo dream pop of her 2016 debut ‘Fading Lines’, but also a hint at the themes of love, identity and nationality covered by her new record. As European in style as the title proclaims, the songs come together in a sophisticated journey across the continent. You can hear the album subtly sonically location hopping, whether among the Alps or in late afternoon sunshine along a Mediterranean coastal road, it fluidly moves between the soothing likes of ‘Oh My Love What Have We Done’ and the more upbeat ‘Where Did You Go’.

In contrast to this musical cohesion comes the more jarring exposure of the reality often hidden behind the façade of romance. The hypnotic ‘Self-Portrait In A Car At Night’ paints the cinematic image of ‘the road stretching out like a dancefloor’, while Arcades simultaneously reflects on the pain of endings. This hurt manifests in many senses across ‘European Heartbreak’, reflecting the experiences that come with trying to find a sense of belonging when things begin to fall apart.

Her second album contains a real maturation of sound, which sees Arcades at her most self-assured. The introduction of horns and strings give the work a real depth of body, echoed across the many layers to dive in to across the record. Her identity, as European and more importantly as a musician has never been stronger.

Katie Pilbeam

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