Taken on face value, ‘Fading Lines’ might appear nothing more than a paint-by-numbers indie-pop record. Built around the genre’s trademark ephemeral melodies and dream-like production, it’s awash in a familiar, textural haze. Spend some time with it however, and what once felt familiar and somewhat fleeting insidiously starts to take root, revealing a staggeringly pretty debut release, which under the surface harbours a wonderfully understated intelligence.
That ‘Fading Lines’ possesses such unassuming intelligence is of little surprise. Essentially the solo project of Dutch multi-instrumentalist Annelotte De Graaf, Amber Arcades is only half of what she does. A legal aide for Syrian refugees in her native Netherlands, and having served on UN tribunals before that, De Graaf clearly possess compassion and intelligence both, qualities which find themselves manifest across ‘Fading Lines’.
Rather than be influenced by the often-harrowing stories she hears in her professional life however, Amber Arcades feels like De Graaf’s own personal escapism. As such, ‘Fading Lines’ is an album inspired by “time, continuity, coincidence and magic”. They’re themes that occur frequently, particularly in tracks such as the Camera Obscura-esque title track, the loping nostalgia of ‘Perpetuum Mobile’ or in the propulsive throb or ‘Turning Light’.
While comparisons to Waxahatchee are warranted, particularly as far as the likes of ‘Apophenia’ go, Amber Arcades are very much their own beast. Despite their initial familiarity each track reveals its own personality on repeat listens, and no two feel alike. Opener ‘Come with Me’ for instance is propulsive and motorik psych-pop, while the aforementioned ‘Turning Light’ is fractured and futuristic, a seven-minute penultimate epic unlike anything else on the album.
Ripe with subtle nuance, ‘Fading Lines’ is an exquisite debut. Seemingly simple yet running far deeper than cursory listens reveal, it’s a record that sticks with you long after the closing notes of the aptly titled ‘White Fuzz’ fade out.
Words: Dave Beech
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