Engineers - In Praise of More
After four long years, 2009 saw Engineers' second album Three Fact Fader finally released to the world. Considering how old the aforementioned album was at the time of release, it’s no surprise then that the band were raring to make something completely new. In Praise Of More is the product of that frustration, and the first album since splitting with band mates Dan McBean and Andrew Sweeney. But with the old comes the new, and the addition of electronic whizz kid Ulrich Schnauss alongside Matthew Linley and Daniel Land could be just what the band need to rejuvenate themselves.
With opening track ‘What it’s Worth’, it’s clear this isn’t going to be a radical departure in sound, and to be fair that’s probably not what most people want. Swirling, melancholy pop music with almost whispered vocals which glide over the guitar melody are what Engineers have done so well in the past, but after reaching the end of In Praise Of More the overriding feeling is that this is somewhat exhausted terrain.
‘Subtober’ introduces a simple bass line and distorted guitars to the fuzzy vocals and synth undercurrent, but yet it quickly becomes all a little harmless and just plain pleasant. And this feeling continues, with tracks like ‘Press Rewind’ and ‘There Will Be Time’ coming across as dull paeans to some lost relationship that vocalist Simon Phipps doesn’t really seem to care about. The latter part of the album is only saved by the eerie piano and double bass of ‘Twenty Paces’ (the only track co-produced by Schnauss), and the closing instrumental ‘Nach Hause’.
While not a bad record as such, the clean and inoffensive nature of the album does start to grate after a while. Fans will welcome the swift delivery of fresh material; others will be left just a little queasy. More ain't necessarily better.