Nottingham shoegazers Six. By Seven are finally back after a five year hiatus, with a new line-up featuring the former Placebo drummer Steve Hewitt. Galvanised, determined and louder, frontman and chief Chris Olley says “this is not a reformation, this is something new”.
Into their third decade, the fact that they can still release an album after seventeen years as a band is a credit in itself. Their seventh album proper, ‘Love and Peace and Sympathy’ produced by Dan Austin (Doves, Cooper Temple Clause) is very much a Six. By Seven album. Epic soundscapes, transcending from Pink Floydian pieces to Godspeed You! Black Emperor chaos, the first question that everyone has on their lips is what does Hewitt deliver to the group? Well check out ‘Truce’ and all will be revealed. With his reins removed he transforms into a drumming monster. He would have never been allowed to drum the shit out of a Placebo track for over eight minutes. Here, alongside the chainsaw guitars and organs, he has found his true calling.
But be assured that ‘Love and Peace and Sympathy’ is not all just an explosion of noise. Like the best tracks of old Six. By Seven, the new songs are as interesting when turned down to a hush as they are when they roar. ‘Colder’ and ‘Sympathy’ show off their more reflective side, both have more in common with the band’s ’04’ album than their 90’s output. Austin has never made the band sound better. Where too often producers try to make a wall of sound, Austin has built the Great Wall of China. No instrument is lost in the wave of sound, with each player allowed to shine during each track, from the organs through to the vocals. Chris Olley still sings with the same passion as he did on ‘Oh Dear’ but seems more comfortable with his accent than this earlier work.
Most of the album was written over the past five years, and tracks like ‘Crying ‘ have been available on their website. But this new version has been injected by a lightning bolt: it’s shockingly intense and easily the most commercial track on offer. That said this isn’t by all means a perfect album. Some Six. By Seven tourists may be a tad put off by the lengths of the tracks which average in around the six-minute mark. Songs like ‘Standing in the Light’ sound promising, but then never deliver. On a whole though, no one would have imagined that in 2013 they would have made what could be their best album yet.
Give ‘Love and Peace and Sympathy’ a chance. For fans of Jesus And The Mary Chain turned up to eleven.