Amor de Días

The House at Sea

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After releasing an enchanting debut album, 2011's Street of the Love of Days, Amor de Días (the duo of Alasdair MacLean of the Clientele and Lupe Núñez-Fernández of Pipas) return with another autumnal classic on 2013's The House at Sea. Unlike their debut, which featured many guests and some tricky arrangements, this time out they keep things small scale, both in terms of the musicians involved and the record's overall sound. If listening to Street of the Love of Days was like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket and being caressed by the duo's rich voices and melancholy melodies, then listening to The House at Sea is like being enveloped by an even warmer, more comforting blanket. It's a record made for reflection and quiet moments, filled with tenderly plucked acoustic guitars, relaxed bossa nova-influenced rhythms, breathy vocals that travel from the speakers right to the heart, and only the occasional uptempo song to shift the mood a touch. That's not to say the songs are dozy or not memorable, or that you will drift off to sleep as the album plays. Amor de Días put plenty of effort and soul into their craft and both are still capable of writing a song that will stick in your head for days. MacLean's "Jean's Waving" is a folk-rock jangler that equals his best work with the Clientele (which is saying a lot), "Day" is a subdued but insistent track that comes closest to rocking thanks to drummer Howard Monk's steady beat, and the opening "Voice in the Rose" has the kind of vocal line that is quintessentially MacLean and near perfect. While these moments are nice and perk up the ears of lovers of pop hooks, the true heart of the album is in the atmosphere that the more restrained and blue songs create, and the spell the mood is liable to cast over listeners, the kind that's hard to shake for hours after the record ends. The album has a reserved beauty and a peaceful grace that spring from the songwriting and are brought to the fore by MacLean and Núñez-Fernández's tender and true vocals. There aren't a lot of bands that can pull off making something so quiet and unassuming but with as much emotional pull and drama as The House at Sea. Amor de Días do it with ease, and this makes them a truly special band and the album required listening.

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