South

With the Tides

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South made an impressionable debut in 2001 with From Here on In, which was a starlit, gauzy pop specter specially accented with mentor James Lavelle's meticulous production. Fresh off the critical acclaim of that album and a brand new confidence, South aimed to charm once more with their sophomore effort, With the Tides. Producer Dave Eringa (Manic Street Preachers, Ash, Kylie Minogue) builds on the band's classic swarm of string arrangement interludes and acoustic guitars for a glorious noise of heavy, cascading electric guitars, synth loops, and shimmering percussion. There's a sharpness that was absent before, a shift in focus and time that's strict in design. With the Tides' dozen-song selection ebbs with an underlying moody atmosphere. Frontman Joel Cadbury's warm vocals sooth complications of loss ("Natural Disasters") and loneliness ("Fragile Day"). The stunning backing of guitarist Jamie McDonald and drummer Brett Shaw surrounds these tender moments with a lush dynamic, hinting at South's underlying thought that there's light flickering at the end of it all. With the Tides isn't entirely a dark occasion of social isolation. Politics play a part regardless of what life presents, and songs like "Motiveless Crime" and the maddening guitar rush of "Colours in Waves" won't dwell on that. South's honest impression, taken from the fact that they've grown personally and professionally, of life in a general sense captures a feeling of a generation misguided by fear. The banjo-harpsichord waltz on "Loosen Your Hold" tries makes sense of it, and the album's title indirectly alludes to that. This London-based trio makes it all sound so easy -- to go with the tides.

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