All tracks by SKOI
Recorded in Farnworth UK , Stoneclough UK, Marple Bridge UK,
Seattle USA and California USA.
Paul Hinks - Vocals, Keyboards, Guitars.
Mark Hinks - Lead Guitars.
Laurenmarie - Cello and Backing Vocals on tracks 1,2 and 7.
Josey Marina - Vocals and Percussion on track 8.
Artwork by Joolz Denby.
released October 31, 2016
Louder Than War Magazine Review
There are some moments in life which popular culture seems to shy from – those moments in which we feel alone, peculiarly aware of all our indecision, uncertainties. Dawn breaks and you lie unsure whether there is more light in the sky than dark – and the sound of Some Kind Of Illness ingeniously manages to soundtrack those bittersweet spaces, that so-often untouched sense of mortality. Raw yes, but all the more beautiful for it…
Introspective rather than electric, Some Kind of Illness return with a second album ‘Souls’ which retains the ambient atmosphere of their debut – inviting the listener’s self-reflection – but this time revealing even more layers.
This powerful effect is particularly well-served by the greater vocal intensity of this album; with the early track ‘Seattle’ mourning a memory which ‘stares back on a grainy screen’. Thanks to lyrics rich with imagery, Paul Hinks’ strong voice amplified with echo – the music pulls you in like a wave with soft seeping cello and dual female vocals; an arrangement which draws our emotions to the surface.
Music is often moving, but this album does one better, capable of creating movement – that sense of mortality I mentioned earlier addressed through lingering layers of sound which make the goosebumps blossom on the skin. Melancholy, but most definitely alive.
It hits something instinctive, with the title track ‘Souls’ opening with acoustics in a way which reminds me a little of John Lennon’s own self-reflective ‘Jealous Guy’. Intensity then arrives in the form of strings and synths, gentle keys caressing us towards a tremendous electric guitar solo . A bittersweet balance of ambience and anger, which is what this album achieves so significantly. The theme is longing, yearning and the lyrics are dual and raw ‘I’m gonna wait for you/until you come back again.
This rawness has again that quality of addressing instinct – a feature of the music celebrated in the album artwork, bold natural imagery infused with autumnal colours, from New Model Army artist Joolz Denby. And whilst Paul Hinks was lead singer-songwriter for much of the first album, now brother Mark brings a new element to sound and lyricism, maintaining a beautiful ambience but with a harder edge.
Drawing out human empathy with handheld instrument, art and voice is one thing though, but being able to master it through electronica is another matter entirely – and this is also attempted on the album. Too much? Some Kind Of Illness shake off all doubt; creating tracks which sound like nothing they have done before – take ‘2019’ which opens with an almost spacey mix, before slow oriental-influenced guitar sounds seep in and send us deeper into self-reflection with a gathering synth energy.
This ability to master the instrumental as well as the lyrical, is a quality the two brothers have matured to master in this album.
That’s not to dismiss the ever-strong lyrical quality though, and what is particularly notable is the Hinks’ use of voice on this album, loading words with an almost liquid weight; like in the track ‘Another World’ with the lines ‘she says it’s my conviction/ and leaves my mind to wander’. There is expression here which lets the audience listen in on a character coming to his senses about the reality of a relationship, accompanied by driving drums and continuous keys in what sounds like a change in tone of SKOI.
If the debut album was a journey into the numbness of lost love, ‘Souls’ swells through the turbulence of love – and the capacity for self-realisation inside it. ‘Another World’ also contains more of that primal imagery which emphasizes the ability to achieve self-understanding is still very much alive.
Other tracks seem to capture scenarios or instances, rather than just introspection – with a notable cluster close to the middle of the album. ‘The Other Side of Hate’ is particularly clever, with the word ‘hate’ gruff and gravelly, almost cried out in a way which sounds a little like ‘hey’. In this way, a greeting and the concept of hatred come close to each other, just like the sensations of love and hate in many of the songs SKOI explore.
It’s a beautifully bittersweet work, as also clear in ‘Lido’, which opens with electronica, becoming a distorted blend of classical strings and haunting female vocals telling of a ‘broken girl’ and a ‘broken man’. The trill of piano in the background reminds me that it is scenario many can sadly relate to.
Two stand-out tracks feature towards the close of the album, Travelling Backwards in a Cave’ and the immersive ‘Cascais Rain’. With vocal collaboration from singer-songwriter Josey Marina, ‘Traveling Backwards in a Cave’ is brimming with earthly impulses; from Marina’s ethereal voice to sounds of gongs and an almost tribal beat inviting us to enter ‘under the white light’ and ‘take this to stop you dreaming’. This whispered intensity reminds me a little of Spiritualized and evokes imagery close to that of Alice in Wonderland; an enchanted intensity where even the impulses of the child come out.
Perhaps that’s because we fall in love like children – young, optimistic, excitable, and yet learn about the age-old journey of difficulty, disparity, the anger of loss. The loss of love is after all a key theme of the album, and we are prepared for the ultimate exploration thanks to penultimate track ‘The Secret’ featuring a more downtempo, slow acoustic, with plucked lead guitar notes over the top leading us into a wistful state of wondering, wandering…
Ready to wander into the final flourish of ‘Cascais Rain’, almost stinging in its bittersweetness, fading in with string-like synths and beautiful sliding guitar, slightly wavering. The notes ascend and yet the lyrics pour down ‘I was thinking of the day/ When the future fades away’, the half rhyme rolling home the concept of absolution – and the art of accepting it. With more volume compared to the rest of album, infused with electronica whirring on the edge of distortion – this track closes with the concept of coming to terms with one’s own impulses, one’s love and what one chooses to do next.
Listen to ‘Souls’ next. I’m already incensed.
After the first SKOI release a couple of years ago, Paul Hinks’ sleepy brand of musical melancholia takes a turn for the better with the addition of accompanying soulful almost-gospel vocals and a few synth fills to swell the ranks. Hinks himself retains his Richard Ashcroft-esque drawl and woozy ambient Vini Reilly-informed guitar work - that’s when he’s not employing a more traditional strumming style, as on the elegiac title-track and The Other Side of Hate. Where Souls really becomes a different beast is on the more electronic 2019 (which could be mistaken for early Aphex Twin) and the upbeat Another World which sounds both retro and futuristic with its subliminal off-kilter programming and nod to early New Order. Lido is perhaps the album’s centrepiece, a confident slowbeat slice of acoustic solemnity which proffers a hopeful harmonic chorus of sorts. Two albums in and Some Kind Of Illness are slowly but surely easing themselves into the consciousness of dream-pop aficionados.
Power of Pop
Atmospheric chamber pop music born out of the post-punk reveries of artists like Cocteau Twins, and Vini Reilly (Durutti Column) with elements of the Pink Floyd/The Alan Parsons Project songbook thrown in for good measure. Tracks like “The Other Side of Hate” and the title track will transport you into a shimmering world of sound and emotions.
Soaring high in the open sky well above Manchester, Bolton and beyond, Some Kind Of Illness’ Souls release leaves me floating on airs. Its mellow nuances are spacey and psychedelic while still having a cohesive tone which you are perfectly prepared for with the opening (almost) completely instrumental, ‘Cityscape Dreaming’.
In the song ‘Seattle’ I hear nods of The Smiths and Jesus and The Mary Chain in its smooth seductive timing and tuneful Robert Smith-like vocals.
The next is a great transition instrumental piece, very reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails, ‘Downward Spiral’. I appreciate the creepy feel as it drunkenly swoons into the dirgey ballad title track ‘Souls’.
(Editor’s Note – Something I noticed very early on with this band was the applicability their sound has to more instrumental and ambient music such as Post-Rock and how it crosses over well into their predominantly Indie sound. – MS)
They definitely took the ship to the Dark Side Of The Moon with this one. Its a little Pink in the Floyd if you get my drift, Water’s vocals and all and as it fades into the techno-groove number ‘Another World’, I’m blown away by the strange combinations of styles.
This track is straight out of 80’s New Wave – Echo & The Bunnymen for days. It’s still individually different in its own way though and leaves you feeling like the Goth-kid hidden in the shadows while all the popular kids have fun, hiding in Post-Punk gloom.
I must digress briefly and once again give props to Mr. Smith for being the Indie Rock God of the 20th Century.
The rest of the album has a lot of the same feel. An eclectic mix of chamber-pop and electronic melodies that dare to make you rethink what an Indie band can really be. I also have to admit that the music impresses me past the basic vocals.
Vocally and lyrically the album is solid for most part but I’d really like to hear the vocalist open up to a higher octave towards the end of his songs as I feel there was a lot of build-up and no real climax at times.
The soft solo work on the acoustic is perfectly fitting where necessary and the band taps along in sweet mournful time. Some Kind Of Illness are definitely a band to keep your eye on, and this second full-length is generally a good release all around.
One last point I feel should be made is that I also really liked the female-vocal accompaniment on a few of the songs, as it adds a real Western/Country twang to the mix which was for lack of a better word, killer in the amount it was used.
If you like Tom Waits, Iron & Wine, or The Cure, be sure to get infected by Some Kind Of Illness.
Thinking Lyrically Blog
Some Kind Of Illness recently released their new album, Souls.
The band evocative melodies and dramatic sounds that are definitely worth giving a listen to.
An album filled with interesting melodies and ethereal sounds, this album flows perfectly to the end. There are some excellent guitar pieces that work with the sounds this band make. Tracks such as title song, Souls are perfect examples of this. However this band can raise the tempo with ease, with great beats on tracks such as Another World.
Though the vocals are used sparingly throughout this album, this band make use of them, adding a dark tone to the record that adds to the atmosphere of the album, making sure the music takes centre stage throughout. The lyrics have real depth where they are used and convey some real emotion, particularly tracks such as Travelling Backwards In A Cave, where the blend of male and female vocals work together incredibly throughout the track.
Some Kind Of Illness make an incredibly interesting record with a great blend of other worldly sounds and acoustic melodies that make for some great songs. Highlights for me on this record are Travelling Backwards In A Cave, Another World and Cascais Rain which finishes up this album in perfect fashion.