South

You Are Here

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The South have been kicking around the U.K. scene for quite a few years now, their advance somewhat slowed by label difficulties. Invariably the band's sound has shifted a bit over time, but that's no bad thing, especially as it's eventually led them to the splendid You Are Here, their fifth album. For fans, this set will come as a bit of a shocker after its heavily electronic predecessor, Adventures in the Underground Journey to the Stars. The change is evident from the pomp rock opening track "Wasted." There are even bigger surprises to come, like the aggressive, flamenco tinged "Lonely Highs" or "Soul Receivers," which swings from the bruising bass driven stomp rock to lighter, brighter British Invasion. "Zither Song" is even more schizophrenic, and starts as a lullaby but ends in a bashing rock extravaganza. In contrast, "She's Half Crazy" is pure art rock, except for the guitars which twist between a Western twang and reggae rhythm, while Rob O'Neale's trumpet adds a sprinkle of soul on top. "The Pain" brilliantly bounces between reggae and British Invasion, think the Beatles plunging into syncopation. And if the Small Faces had wandered into dream pop, a song like "There Goes Your Life" would have been the result. So, the South haven't entirely deserted the dream pop world, with the delicate folk of "The Creeping," the spacy soft rock of "Opened Up," the bright yearning of "Tell Me," and the moody eloquence of "Every Light Has Blown" other reminders of the band's true roots. But for all its stylistic diversity, You Are Here is anchored by bandmember Brett Shaw's stellar production, which wraps the entire set in a sublime gauze of sound, blurring the aural edges and smoothing over sharp genre corners. Ian Brown's mentoring has paid off, and the South sound ready to take on the world.

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