“We are not the future of pop music; we are pop music from the future.” The quartet of Alexi Rose Belchere (vocals), Devin Nelson (guitar/vocals/synths), Jack Sundquist (bass), and Nick Schneider (drums) formed in 2010. On first listen you may be surprised to find out that Y Axes are from San Francisco. They don’t sound a bit Californian. If you had told me that they are from Glasgow, or Essex, I would have believed it, such is their anglophilia.
Imagine Churches with guitars instead of synths and you’re most of the way there. The millennial whoop of lead single ‘Meteorite’ reminiscent of ‘The Mother We Share’. Y Axes also owe a debt to Franz Ferdinand and Britpop bands like Sleeper.
Alexi Belchere’s voice is definitely the lead instrument. It overshadows all the other instruments combined. Her bare, unaffected vocal has only the subtlest of overdubs but it is equal to the heavy burden of carrying the songs . And the songs are the real strong point of Umbra. Tune after tune pours out of the speakers.
The previously released single , ‘Monsters’, fuses ’80s pop and ’90s Britpop to great effect, and the ’90s vibes continue on the playful ‘Aloine’. ‘Patch me up’ has a Kings Of Leon stadium rock feel but that can be forgiven when the opening chimes of ‘Drifting’ ring out.
Y Axes share many touchstones with our own Little x’s For Eyes. Belchere and Little x’s Bennie Reilly would make a good team. The catchy ‘Password Protected’ is an immediately familiar tune before the pop-prog and stuttering rhythms of ‘Silence In The Library’ bring to mind The Police. The title track closes the album and is fully worthy of it’s titular prestige.
Smooth without being soulless and poppy without being saccharine, Y Axes make the kind of music that most of us only dream about. The low budget production only adds to the general ambience and if Umbra were recorded and polished to a sheen by a big name producer it would lose all its charm. As it is Y Axes have laid the foundations of a great body of work and expectations for their future releases will be sky high.
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