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Presents for Sally-Colours and Changes (Saint Marie Records)

Cover art for Present for Sally's second album, Colours and Changes.
16 August 2015

Ah, the long awaited second album from one of my favorite bands of the past few years. England’s Presents for Sally dives deep into the psychedelic shoegaze musical vein and has created a shimmering, loud, and blisteringly beautiful suite of songs this time around. Consider “We Fought Lucifer (And Won)” as guitarist/vocalist Matt Etherton wrestles with the barely controlled fury of his feedback-driven guitars, tempered only by his gentle vocals and the sweet harmonies of his wife Anna Etherton. “Wishawaytoday” is the first single, quieter but no less energetic than the album’s opening track, a stunning, gauzy song that is dense with multi-tracked layers of beautiful melodies. “Anything Anymore” is Anna’s turn at the mike, and she does a splendid job and it reminds me a bit of downtempo Lush. Matt joins in on the chorus, and I really dig those trippy guitars in the background.

“The Sun Dehydrates” is soaked with buzzing, heavy guitars that start off ominous and build gradually, joined by cool keyboards on their way to the top. Fizzing out like a shaken soda, the song spirals in all directions like a pinwheel. And then it careens back to Earth, drawn back to simple drums and ringing guitar. Listeners can barely exhale before the song rockets up again, ending in joyful, noisy oblivion. “Sleep Tight” has a softer feel to it at first, but the band employs the softer-louder trick they pull off so well, and the song kicks into high gear with a tiny bit of feedback thrown into the mix. The heavenly harmonies and ringing guitars work well here, and any hint of sleepiness is long gone by song’s end. “Everything I Said” is a bit different, the energy is dialed down from 11 to a quieter level, but is no less trance inducing than the other tracks here. All is lovely, and almost pastoral in feel.

“Colours and Changes” is more psychedelic than the other tracks here, employing different bits of studio trickery to achieve the cool, trippy undertone. As always, I greatly enjoy Matt’s gentle voice, offering a simple counterpoint to the complicated musical layers. Anna also adds her pretty vocals here, making an already sweet musical confection into a real treat. And by three minutes on, Matt’s guitar reminds me quite a lot of vintage Yo La Tengo. No accident that I am mentioning this, as that latter group is another husband and wife team I greatly admire. “Floor Faller” has bird song and also retains the pastoral feel I sense elsewhere on this album, and it churns up a bit into something that hearkens back to classic Flying Nun pop! I really like the Beatlesque barn burner, “Softly Spoken/Outside Honey”. The hidden track “NSIC” finishes off the album, and it’s 2:26 minutes of gently strummed trippiness. All in all, this is a great second album, with all the band’s sonic experiments paying off in spades. Recommended for fans of Ride, MBV, and the aforementioned bands.

Pre-order Colours and Changes here.

Check out the band on their Facebook page.