Hercules & Love Affair – In Amber

Andy Butler's first album as Hercules & Love Affair in five years is riddled with discomfort, making for a harsh listen

Album Review by Nadia Younes | 13 Jun 2022
  • Hercules & Love Affair - In Amber
Album title: In Amber
Artist: Hercules & Love Affair
Label: Skint/BMG
Release date: 17 Jun

“I could not in good conscience make something comfortable,” says Andy Butler in the press release for In Amber, his first album as Hercules & Love Affair in five years. It makes sense then that it’s an album utterly riddled with discomfort. For the most part, In Amber is a harsh listen; it’s sparse, jarring and often feels quite confused. On it, Butler reunites with past collaborator ANOHNI, and he credits her involvement as crucial to the making of the album.

It gets off to a strong start, as lead single Grace sets out the album's gothic leanings immediately, before veering into the dancefloor-ready One. But from then on it all gets a bit odd. Christian Prayers and Killing His Family find Butler wailing despairingly, and it’s expectedly unpleasant, while You’ve Won This War and The Eyes of the Father are disturbingly hypnotic. In amongst all the heaviness, there are moments of reprieve on Dissociation and Who Will Save Us? but even these softer moments feel weighted. 

If creating something uncomfortable was what Butler was hoping to achieve with In Amber, then it certainly succeeds in its mission. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t achieve much else.

Listen to: Grace, One