England Without Rain is 37 minutes of postmodern pop perfection. Like a half-remembered heatwave, it oozes with surreal mirages and sultry pleasures, yearning for the release of a storm. Joy, sadness and frustration are embodied in shimmering guzheng, exuberant synths, thumping Kompakt beats and Fleetwood Mac guitar duels. The music simply bursts with vitality.
This sonic invention is matched by subtle, affective lyrics. There’s a real sense of embodiment 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’ “the moments in our throat/became real and made us choke”. There are moments of wry humour too: 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?”.
Over the last few years artists such as Hot Chip, WhoMadeWho and Kanye West have shown what electronic pop can do. It’s testament to the brilliance of England Without Rain that we can mention it alongside them. A grand statement, perhaps - but this is a grand record.