Six by Seven ‘Love and Peace and Sympathy’ – album review

Six by Seven ‘Love and Peace and Sympathy’ (Borrowed Tune Motion Pictures)
CD/DL
Released: 8th July 2013

Six By Seven first arrived into the world through a smoke filled haze of psychedelic shoegaze fuzz, exemplified by their 1998 debut ‘The Things We Make’, an edgy collection of brooding, atmospheric songs which owed much to bands who enjoyed their success in the early nineties. Something had clearly changed in the band by the time they released their follow up, 2000’s ‘The Closer You Get’. Things had suddenly got urgent, dirty, and intense. Most of the swirly art-house soundscapes had been replaced with throbbing drones and guitars that gradually increased to a volume that gave listeners some serious food for thought as to what their speakers were actually for. 2002’s ‘The Way I feel Today’ followed in the same vein; noise, drones, tunes and claustrophobia. It wasn’t until 2004 that their fourth effort, the unimaginatively titled ’04’ saw a return to the slower, more contemplative efforts contained on their debut.

Fast forward nine years of semi-hiatus, skipping through two very decent solo records from lead skipper Chris Olley, and a couple of rather challenging side projects owing a slight nod to krautrock and we arrive at ‘Love, Peace and Sympathy’, produced by Dan Austin (Oceansize, Doves), this is the band’s latest offering, and the first to feature former Placebo drummer Steve Hewitt holding the sticks. Six by Seven set their stall out early on here with opening track ‘Change’. From its mechanically tight opening riff and relentless driving Hammond organ in the background, you can already tell that once again, Six By Seven aren’t simply intent on building a wall of sound, they’re demanding you build it with them.

It would be unfair to suggest that all this intensity makes for a dark album. Indeed, as the album’s title suggests, there are some genuinely uplifting moments on the record, especially on ‘Crying’ and ‘Sympathy’. Bright shiny guitars with driving rhythms and upbeat tempos mark a clear evolution from some of the band’s earlier efforts. However, even here, Olley’s lyrics continue to carry underlying themes of despair and frustration. It makes for an exhilarating contrast.

Upon reaching closing track ‘Fall into your Arms’, Steve Hewitt’s contribution to the band’s dynamic becomes stark; his regimental time keeping on the track recalls the unremitting rhythm of Placebo’s ‘Pure Morning’. Elsewhere, the band do take the time to resist applying their foot to the dynamite pedal; ‘The Rise and Fall and Decline of Everything’ sounds like one of those rare moments when The Jesus and Mary Chain mellowed out and let the guitars do some of the singing, whereas ‘Colder’ finds Olley taking a more upbeat stance, belting out a coda of ‘No I won’t ever give up’ over the usual combination of noises that weave in and under and around his vocals.

At their best, Six By Seven can remind you why people love music. Their sheer intensity is that of a band exploding with anxiety, fear, love and despair. Luckily for us, this is Six by Seven at their best.

Six By Seven tour dates, all July 2013

  • 22 Club Ifor Bach Cardiff
  • 23 Bristol Louisanna
  • 24 London Lexington
  • 25 Exeter Cavern Club
  • 26 Manchester Soundcontrol
  • 27 Notingham Rescue Rooms
  • 28 Leeds Brudenell Social Club
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Lewis Gilmore lives in Brighton with his wife, daughter, and two cats. He spends most of his time listening to The Afghan Whigs, The Hold Steady, and Elvis Costello and watching episodes of The Twilight Zone.

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