Æ: Aglet Eaters

Tears Run Rings – Distance (2010)

Posted in Album, Review by R on September 27, 2010

It started with ‘Mind The Wires’.

‘Mind the Wires is a song off Tears Run Rings’ first album. It is one of the most exquisitely understanding, most sympathetic songs I have ever had the privilege to hear. I am (unsurprisingly) not quite sure what they’re saying, and while I would like to know, I am quite happy in my lyrical ignorance thanks to a comforting Discernible Lyric Template that ensures the involuntary filler lyrics you insert can do no damage.

You do want to know, though. A template that looks like this:

“Mind the wires, let your love…

Slow down – slow down, be careful

A million stars…”

And also includes:

“Say goodbye…

… stay a while.”

leaves you craving the words you miss every time you listen.

Tears Run Rings don’t get enough credit. Even within shoegaze circles they are oft overlooked and perhaps the most unfairly ignored of all neo-gaze bands. This might be because they don’t appear to travel in the same incestuous musical circles* as several of the others appear to. But they are easily somewhere at the top of the pile in terms of expertise and expression. You can see their honesty manifest itself in their delicately vague song titles, the hazy abstractness obvious in such detached album names as Always, Sometimes, Seldom, Never and even more glaringly so in Distance… which is what I’m supposed to be talking about, by the way. Sorry, ‘Mind The Wires’ always distracts me from the task at hand.

‘Happiness 3’ is a lovely way to start Distance and is, in my humble but somewhat reliable opinion, better than its prequels. It is a stunning, twilit vocal waltz – two voices swirl in each others’ metaphorical arms melting into one another in the kind of blinkered love that leaves you oblivious to your surrounds. Lost in themselves, twisting elegantly into a dewy double helix.

‘Intertia’ is the song with the most personality on the album thanks to some rebellious drums that develop a mind of their own mid-verse and wander off  the set path for a few liberated seconds before snapping out of their reverie, gathering their bearings and reining themselves back in. And ‘Reunion’ is surprisingly psychedelic, radiating the echoes the Jesus and Mary Chain trademarked. The only song I find myself not such a fan of is the much hyped (by TRR standards, of course) offering, ‘Forgotten’. Don’t misunderstand me, ‘Forgotten’ is a great song. But I am left slightly cold by the jarring in-and-out-ros, the guitars screaming a little to harshly to follow the cradle set up by Happiness 3 and appearing out of place in the song itself.

I’m having some trouble adequately expressing how transcendent the title track is. ‘Distance’ the song is an absolute gem, with a melody and words tender enough to coax even the most ardent insomniac to, if not sleep, at the very least a state of out-of-body other-worldly suspension. “We are tired but we can’t go to sleep” – you couldn’t have asked for a more compassionate statement. Tears Run Rings say the words for you and then – “here I am” – say the words to you. You can feel them gently stroking your hair right up to the magnificently crashing close that unfailingly sends ripples through your bloodstream.

It’s quite obvious how much I am in love with this song isn’t it? It’s a seven minute long track and I listened to it five times in the course of writing the preceding paragraph. 35 minutes. I may as well have blinked.

‘Distance’ is followed by the unsettlingly sweet-sounding ‘Divided’. “I try to scream…” says a voice of icy, crystal honey that you know is incapable of such an unmelodious act – and this very thought is what makes the song so disquieting.

I’m quite happy with TRR’s relative elusiveness. It’s not just a matter of having a band you love all to yourself. It goes beyond the mere selfish protectiveness we tend to coat our favourite possessions with (though, no doubt, I am rather pleased with how much more mine this makes them). No, I am also in favour of this because it means there’s less pressure on them.  You know? As in, I’d imagine they’re their own strongest influence. Distance takes its time to unfurl. It’s unhurried and natural – untouched by expectations from peers or industry. Like its predecessor, it’s unadulterated.

[*I love how those incestuous circles are so reminiscent of the original ‘Scene That Celebrates Itself’ mentality. It’s like an involuntary homage to classic shoegaze.]

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