Record review

Phases & Stages


(The Echo Label)

Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the best-constructed rock albums of the season comes from an outfit called Engineers. Respecting a craft honed by Talk Talk and Slowdive, this London-based quartet doesn't break new ground on its self-titled debut, yet remodels the dream-pop formula to near perfection. The blueprint clearly lifts sounds from fellow nu-gazers like Elbow or Doves, but unlike these contemporaries, there's a tremendous consistency in the Engineers between glistening pop like "Come in Out of the Rain" and complex rock operas like "New Horizons." Simon Phipps has a voice almost too hypnotic for its own good, with songs like "Home" and "Forgiveness" so rich in soul that it would be compelling to hear them with female accompaniment. All dream pop needs a musical bed, and Phipps & Co. weave meticulous arrangements so dense that Spiritualized can continue its siesta. Epics like "Said and Done" will shock any rock fan to discover this band is little more than 2 years old. Nevertheless, it's likely audiences will talk about Engineers for years to come. This is what the new Coldplay album should have been.


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