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England Without Rain is 37 minutes of postmodern pop perfection. Like a half-remembered heatwave, it oozes with surreal mirages, sultry pleasures and the yearning for release of a storm. Joy, sadness and sublimated frustration are embodied through shimmering guzheng, crystalline synths, thumping Kompakt beats, cLOUDDEAD raps and Fleetwood Mac guitar duels.
This sonic invention is matched by the subtly affective lyrics. There’s a real sense of embodiment at work here: music, love and memory lingering in bone and muscle. ”The churn at the base of my chest/a body never forgets”, sings Jennings on ‘Love Is A Vortex’; whilst in ‘Atlantic’ he invites us to remember when “the moments in our throat / became real and made us choke”. There are moments of wry humour too, mind: Glockenspiel captures the obsession required to make a record like this, with Jennings wondering if he’ll “buy a box of wine/and stay in with my glockenspiels?”.
Artists such as Hot Chip, WhoMadeWho and Kanye West have shown what electronic pop can do over the last few years, and it’s testament to England Without Rain’s brilliance that it can be mentioned alongside them. A grand statement, perhaps - but this is a grand record.