If you are looking for a soundtrack for those sultry summer nights where you lay on the grass staring up at the stars contemplating then Northern Lights & Southern Skies from US electro pop band The Capsules is a more than suitable applicant for the position. It is not an album to ignite any hungry fires in the passions but as an emotive colour for your thoughts and feelings at that moment in time it certainly provides a satisfying backdrop.
Hailing from Kansas originally, now Dallas based, The Capsules emerged out of the band Shallow formed by Julie and Jason Shields, the pair a couple in high school who went on to marry and unite musically. Drummer Kevin Trevino was brought in for the new incarnation of their musical creativity and the trio soon drew strong attention and acclaim through their sounds, recordings, and shows, including fans such as SpongeBob SquarePants creator Steven Hillenburg who asked them to write a song for the show. Northern Lights & Southern Skies comes after three previously successful and well received albums, and shows alongside the likes of The Flaming Lips, Garbage, Mercury Rev, and Low. It sees a different emphasis rather than direction to their music with the band moving away more from guitar sculpted songs to electronic and keys bred persuasions. At times the album is mesmeric company, with the distinct vocals of Julie a warm and eager embrace on the ear, but also it can drift over the senses without any lingering impact, though those moments still wrap a pleasing warm evocative arm around the reflective shoulder.
Opening track Across The Sky instantly brings an eager but restrained stroll of electro pop energy and warm atmospherics around the ear, the whispering almost stark air of the song a background to the throaty bass enticement and electronic shimmering around the vocals of Julie. Suggested here and reinforced across the album, there is a bewitching lure to her voice which seduces like a mix of Alison Statton (Young Marble Giants/Weekend) and Harriet Wheeler (The Sundays), and musically at times the release also offers glimpses of their bands. It is an enchanting sound which glides through the songs with a sultry narrative to unite with thoughts and emotions whilst musically, especially on this first song, the band envelope her potent delivery with equally persuasive sounds.
From The Start steps forward next with the bass of Jason a singular lure alongside the voice of Julie before things open up slightly. As heated guitar sculpting lights the smouldering croon of the song and electro snatches tease the gentile ambience it is a pleasing sway of invention which is soon left in its place by the fiery Our Apocalypse. This track sizzles with electro electricity whilst rhythmic provocation is firm if not forceful, but once more the vocals weave their charms around the evocative suggestiveness to offer sirenesque bait from within the song. As with all it is not a song which lays the deepest hooks into the passions but still easily commands attention and full keen focus whilst in its vibrant company.
Through the likes of the cantering With Signs Repeating with its fluidity in creating graceful melodic flames around rhythmic protests, the excellent and tantalising Time Will Only Tell with again the bass and drums framing the melodic temptation with understanding and punchy appetite reminiscent of The Cure, and the post punk tasting Test Drive The Other Side, the album continues to engage the emotions with a sure and confident temptation, the last two of the three highlights of the release.
Where It All Begins is another excellent venture through sky bound exploration, melodic and vocal harmonies an angelic kiss across the irresistibility of the contagious swing and swagger of what is the best song on Northern Lights & Southern Skies. It leaves the senses and passions ignited for arguably the only real time, though consistently the album does leave nothing but energised reactions and pleasure in its wake, the engaging All At Once a definite creator of strong responses to confirm that claim.
Closing on the emotive sophistication of Magnetic Fields, the album provides a more than enriching experience which is easy to return to and pass on to others. The Capsules have not produced a release to leave you burning with fevered desire but for those warm teasing steamy evenings it makes for a very rewarding encounter.
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