An engaging and stirring effort with intense highs and effective, melancholic lows.
After touring with Kodaline before breaking the top 40 with 2015’s debut album 5AM, Nottingham quartet Amber Run was dropped from by RCA and said goodbye to drummer Felix Arthur. When they could have easily thrown in the towel – and indeed just one year ago they were considering disbanding – they instead started work on For A Moment, I Was Lost, the result of fervent highs and bitter lows that is some of their finest work to date.
With tracks like ‘Stranger’ and ‘Perfect,’ the record heads towards Royal Blood territory with pulsating guitar motifs and pounding drum beats. In ‘Machine’ and ‘Haze,’ the approach taken is slower and more melancholic. Throughout, vocals from Joe Keogh are strikingly powerful, especially in ‘Wastelands,’ a compelling magnum opus that steadily builds towards a thrilling climax for the album. The result is a perfectly balanced and moving encapsulation of the group’s turbulent past few years.
Standout single ‘Fickle Game’ is where the band strikes the perfect balance between exhilarated and pensive. Building up to multiple false crescendos before guitarist Will Jones launches into one of a truly serene solo, Keogh laments about the changeability of life, calling it “a fickle game we play.” Agonising over their dropping at Sony (“I don’t want to fall at the start”) and the departure of Arthur (“I don’t want to be worlds apart”), the track gracefully accentuates how the highs of being in a band can easily give way to exhausting lows, although its lyrics can certainly be applied to any time that life gets you down. This is definitely one for the rainy day playlist.
The uncertainty and frustration experienced by the band since 5AM is felt throughout For A Moment, I Was Lost, but nowhere moreso than in ‘No Answers,’ a song written following their breakdown in early 2016. Singing of a couple struggling through a break-up, Keogh confronts the group’s near-disintegration in a way that will resonate with anyone who has gone through a painful separation in the past. Although clearly in disbelief, he boldly declares hope for the future (“I’ll find someone new / We’ll shrug off our armour / I’ll take what I want”). ‘No Answers’ is the story of the album, and in the band’s own words the record’s most important. Without it, they may well have broken up for good.
Although it is unfortunate that Amber Run rarely branches out from the album’s key themes of perseverance and determination, they are more than capable of switching up their musical style, from heavier rock to more somber, wistful tunes reminiscent of Coldplay’s ‘Fix You.’ With their second studio album, Amber Run is back with a bang – and this time (hopefully) to stay.
For A Moment, I Was Lost is out now via Easy Life