I once saw a meme where a small child sat with headphones listening to a band and told the rabbit behind him that this was now his band and no-one else can listen to them. It wasn’t a particularly funny meme and seemed rather peculiar, but when I find myself continuously reviewing one group it does make some sense. I’m not one to choose pet projects, but sometimes it just makes sense to write about one group’s music rather than passing it along to another blogger. One of these obsessive, dare I say it, “pet projects” is Australian duo The English Rain.
Technically founded in the mid-1980s, The English Rain began as a songwriting collaboration between veteran musicians Steve Boom and Neil Steward. With Boom residing in Brisbane and Steward living in Perth, the partnership remained entirely digital – talk about using the internet to your advantage. After building up a plethora of songs, the pair decided it was time to record a debut album including the fruits of their labour; hence, we have Echoes of You.
On paper, The English Rain is a pair of upbeat, laid-back, indie-pop inspired Australian musicians; however, the majority of their tracks feature guest artists on lead vocals. Is this to make the music more relevant to different audiences? Perhaps. For instance, featuring a duet between Cassi Maree and Alister Bell in ‘Baby Please’ makes the overwhelming emotions of an ending love affair far more evident. It’s clear that Steward and Boom understand the effect of specific vocalists and how they impact the meaning of a track. You’ll also find the placement of each single on Echoes of You both melds the twelve songs into a single journey and increases the impact of its lyrical content.
While Echoes of You holds the unique genre-bending sound of The English Rain, the influence of The Beatles and The Monkees is evident. This is particularly the case in “jangle-pop” singles ‘Without You’, ‘She’s A Rainbow’ and ‘Baby Please’. Yet, despite the continuous indie-pop sound, there are tracks where the group breaks out of a pop mold showing their innovativeness and ability to defy genres. ‘Just Think Of You’ and ‘Matter Of Time’ are more soulful with a jazz edge, particularly with the latter single featuring a horn section. As I said before, the use of vocals is masterful and Cassi Maree’s soothing voice adds elegance to the album.
If you want to label Echoes of You as something in the pop category, then, by all means, do so; but you should take care to hear the out-of-character singles ‘Before The Dark’ and ‘Swamp Girl’. Beginning the album with purely The Beatles-esque sounds, ‘Before The Dark’ uses an 80s-pop synth design to move you from the jangles to the jungle. Ending with ‘Swamp Girl’, an Incubus meets TOOL single, The English Rain shows they are definitely not to be pigeon-holed.