On their second album, the English pop band continues to be rather difficult to pin down. They have wistful, twee melodies like genre legends Camera Obscura, but their sound is much more robust than anything that outfit ever released. They have elements of shoegaze and Eighties alt-rock, but they’re hardly the engine-rush, Hughesian soundtracking band that The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart perfected. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, like it always does: they aren’t prep-school-wistful, they aren’t a twee version of the Smashing Pumpkins, but they do okay. The C-86/Jesus And Mary Chain vibe some of the tracks hold helps to propel it along, but it gets mired down about a third of the way through and everything sort of sounds similar once you get to the end. Their 2011 self-titled debut held a lot of promise but Waiting For Something To Happen doesn’t really deliver, unless “promise” is supposed to lead to “more of the same”. The album’s title accurately describes the act of listening to it; you keep waiting for something to move you to the next level but nothing ever does. Decent enough, but rapidly approaching the vanishing point of “why bother?”
The band’s last album, 2008’s Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, was a raucous affair, full of the sort of visceral garage-punk blasts that had always cropped up here and there in the their catalog, albeit on a much more consistent scale. Push The Sky Away takes the opposing path; where their last album scorched the earth, their newest meditates gloomily in the devastation. It’s the sort of contemplative tone that they took most notably on 2001’s hushed No More Shall We Part, but filtered through the sort of sonic crunch that Nick Cave explored in his Grinderman act. The result is an album that is both spiritual and heavy, uplifting and oppressive; it’s the sort of light-and-dark dichotomy that is quintessentially Nick Cave. The lack of hooks may be disconcerting to some, but it’s not as though the album is amelodic; tracks like “We No Who U R” and the title track will still get stuck in your head long after the album finishes. This sort of skill in songwriting is impressive, especially when one considers how long the band has been at it; to still be this good, this many years after inception, is a feat of which few songwriters in the modern era can boast.