[a]Bows[/a] creator [B]Luke Sutherland[/B] is a man for whom the onset of summer is always tempered with the promise of storm clouds...

Bows creator Luke Sutherland is a man for whom the onset of summer is always tempered with the promise of storm clouds. Once a member of avant-rock stalwarts Long Fin Killie, he now consorts with Mogwai, and last year his glowering debut novel Jelly Roll was published to acclaim. But the rich swirl of 'Blush' proves that Sutherland has finally found his idiom, and it's a glorious maturation.

Opener 'Big Wings', like most of the album, seethes with strings, echoing Scott Walker's wondrous 'It's Raining Today', before whomping bass drums and clipped breaks dissipate the portentous gloom.

Like Archive and Alpha, two other undervalued exponents of this baroque-beat sound, Bows set a mood and shape tunes around it. Ruth Edmond's hushed vocal on 'King Deluxe' is dwarfed by orchestral flurries, yet like Bjvrk on 'Homogenic' she finds subtle, quiet melodies amid the autumnal haze that linger long after the bows have fallen still. Even the instrumental 'It'll Be Half Time In England Soon', which is focused on the delicate John Barry-esque ebb and flow of the violins, resonates with a simple power.

This sensuous aesthetic is rarely oppressed by any sense of urgency, yet Sutherland still proves able on 'Britannica' to scatter war-like brass and hysterical violin stabs over pounding jungle breaks without upsetting the languid flow of the album. And despite the rarified atmosphere, 'Blush' is never less than thrilling.
8 / 10

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