An excellent second album from the indie pop project...

Bristol indie pop outfit Snails escape from their shells for beautiful second album ‘Hard Wired’. The band’s 2018 debut became a word of mouth success on its release, propelled by organic hype in the DIY pop underground. Out now on Glass Modern, ‘Hard Wired’ builds on the unfussy, neat and tidy songwriting that made its forebeat so beloved, while adding a dash of new ideas.

Calm and assured, opener ‘It Doesn’t Have To Be True’ matches bewitching word-play to an off piste groove, while the deliciously melodic ‘Amy’ has a grace all of its own. Songwriting of a quite timeless bent, reference points could include elements of Bristol’s own indie pop history – Sarah Records stable, in particular – but equally you could name The Proper Ornaments, or even post-punk groups such as Young Marble Giants’ epochal and deeply atmospheric minimalism.

‘My Eyes Are Open’ is a lush mid-album highlight, while title track ‘Hard-Wired’ is an excellent group performance, with Snails allowing the song to expand ever outwards, six minutes of blissful sonic intrigue from a band at the top of their game. ‘I’m Not Too Sorry’ is open about its lyrical barbs, Snails exposing the slightly more darker aspects of their DIY pop sound.

A world away from ‘08 era twee, theirs is a gently confrontation edge, one unafraid to bear its claws. Ending with the wonderful three minute gem ‘Mad About You’ this is an album that somehow manages to be immediately accessible while leaving its true aims and desires for the third or fourth listen. As ever, Snails build a layered, multi-faceted experience, with ‘Hard-Wired’ managing to somehow convey exquisite beauty while retaining a lingering sense of mystery.

8/10

Words: Robin Murray

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