Anathallo - Canopy Glow

Will Metcalfe 14/07/2009

Rating: 4/5

Canopy Glow is a record underpinned by the influence of fellow alt. folkers Sufjan Stevens and Wood Pigeon, that's not to say that Anathallo are plagiarists - more that they also favour haunting vocals and an overriding sense of vulnerability.

To describe this record as 'ethereal' would be too easy and essentially it would miss the point. The tracks here are far more than winter wooksie and the dual harmonies of Matt Joynt and Erica Froman manage to evade the Radio 2 friendly fa├žade purveyed by wunderkinds Fleet Foxes. There is something of an edge to Anathallo - not exactly a raw edge but certainly a sense of adventure that is lacking from many of their more established peers.

Elsewhere Cafetorium is enchanting but for reasons that escape as soon as you attempt to pin them down, with all reason replaced by swoons of 'lovely' and 'ice cold' replacing any reasoned argument. The thing is, although Canopy Glow is a momentous record crafted from dual harmonies and reverb-laden arpeggios, why it resonates so well is something of a mystery. Perhaps it's the subtleties that do it, the sense of waste, of loss that manages to permeate every overwrought moment, the fact that Matt and Erica gel so well it would be hard to imagine a single vocal. Anathallo have such discretion that not even the most astute of observers could spot the sudden warmth, the total intoxication that Canopy Glow summons.

It's not a perfect record, it's not the sort of album that a bloke would pick up on his way home from the betting shop and it's all the better for it. Driven by beauty rather than mean spirited careerism it's special - inspiring in places and ignorable in others it seems that Anathallo are a band for the middle children. Unsung, unabashed yet somehow unashamedly beautiful all the while, the younger siblings can stamp their feet and pout their best - it's not going to change a thing.