The Scottish Enlightenment – St. Thomas
The Scottish Enlightenment echo winter well, with skeletal guitar lines as brittle and bare as tree branches and a settled pace as quietly insidious as snow fall. They won’t change the world like Hume and the gang, but they’ll soundtrack many a crisp walk, ensuring every footstep quivers with drama. Bad Seeds menace and Low-like minimalism join post-rock crescendos, but just when you start to worry the tone’s too oppressive to be enjoyable, a lighter side emerges.
Particularly effective are Taxidermy of Love’s clàrsach flourishes and the faint Yule-ness of The Soft Place, which prove important leavens in an otherwise po-faced mix (though any Christmassy atmosphere in the latter is probably accidental, dealing as it does with the decidedly un-festive topic of transplant surgery). Such careful balancing culminates in a majestic finale reminiscent of Hope of the States at their most haunting – chilly, yet warming in its emotional openness. [Chris Buckle]