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The debut album is always a tough hill to get over. For Melbourne five-piece collective Playwrite the road traveled to reach their debut album Cathedrals was one walked with determination in the face of some big odds. With band members exiting the group and a dedication to strive for perfection rather than settling for average delayed the release of their debut full length. After five arduous years the band have delivered an album that is worth the wait.
Intense and intimate, Melbourne’s Playwrite have delivered a great exploration of the human condition, Cathedrals a debut album worthy of the five year wait.
Playwrite started life as Cacophony Society cira 2009. With a reduction from thirteen members to the now five, Jordan White , Patrick Holcombe, Scott Barton, Sonny Igusti and Caity Fowler are the five-some that make up the band. In September 2012 they released Borderline, with a follow up release in November with the EP Assembly. Playwrite are the kind of guys who live and breathe music with Holcombe commenting that the thing that makes Playwrite most happy is “A magical moment when [you’re] writing a song and it starts to form in front of you out of nowhere. That’s pretty amazing. Also the first time we work on it as a band is exciting.”
Teaming up with internationally acclaimed producer (and appointed sixth member of the band) Jimi Maroudas, Cathedrals is a powerful exploration of life and loss that deals with the passing of Holcombe’s parents during the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. Light, airy and delicate is how Cathedrals opens for its listeners with the first track Little Ark. This lightness is quickly pushed aside about ten seconds in for some haunting guitar, gritty drums and electronic elements. There is a lot happening in the track but the busy vibe gives the song weight strength. By having so many different elements within the track work seamlessly together works quite well and is great way to open the album.
Millennial Deer is a track that screams to be played live. The song has a lot of warbled punches with Holcombe explaining that the song was “Written about moments of overwhelming euphoria that he experienced when spending time alone deep in the wilderness.” This idea is captured through sweeping drums and electronic touches that build and build before the release at the crescendo of the song.
Drums are used quite well to convey the sense of drama throughout the album, however it is with Rivers that their full potential is showcased. Like a heartbeat, the drums pumps the blood of Rivers and keeps it alive. It’s this drumming heartbeat that allows the addition of piano, electric guitar, vocals and the sporadic and unexpected background trumpet inclusions to combine. If there needed to be an example of how the drums are the soul of a song then Rivers should be your go-to.
“A haunting wall of sound and energy” is how Playwrite describe themselves and with Dogs you are able to fully see it. The vocals are the hands down hero of the track. The opening is reminiscent of a cathedral choir, the spiritual ways the vocals are portrayed are uplifting yet haunting. Whilst other tracks within the album have built up their intensity through instrumentals, Dogs trumps them using those amazing windpipes.
Although there is not much to criticise about the album it would be nice to see a few more tracks with a more calm approach to them. There is a slight (and it is very small) feeling of being overwhelmed due to the intensity of each song. However given the album’s subject matter it makes sense that such feelings dominate Cathedrals.
Playwrite will be playing special launch show at Shadow Electric Bandroom on November 27, be sure to get down and experience Cathedrals in person.
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