Apricot Rail: Quarrels
I'm not exactly sure why but for whatever reason I mistakenly had Apricot Rail pegged as a hard-hitting guitar-driven outfit. That impression was quickly set right when I put on the Perth-based sextet's sophomore outing Quarrels and was presented with the opening song “Basket Press,” a luscious instrumental that does feature guitars but does so primarily for the purposes of crafting a soothing mood. Yes, a heavier guitar-fueled attack does eventually surface, but not before Mayuka Juber's flute appears to establish even more clearly the band's multi-coloured identity. Apricot Rail helps distinguish its sound from the competition by prominently featuring woodwinds in its arrangements (bassist Daniel Burt also plays saxophone and Juber contributes clarinet as well as flute to the recording). As much pop group as post-rock outfit, the group also includes drummer Matt Saville and guitarists Ambrose Nock, Justin Manzano, and Jack Quirk, all of whom enrich the songs with bold splashes of colour (vocals, melodica, trumpet, electronics, and glockenspiel).
Largely recorded over a four-day spell during January 2012 in an isolated farmhouse in Western Australia, Quarrels offers a bounty of splendid songcraft and arrangements. The second piece, “Another Roof, Another Proof,” captures the band's softer side and lightness of touch in beautiful manner, and again demonstrates the rich range of instrumental colour the sextet is capable of bringing to an arrangement. “Cicadas...Part Two” likewise spotlights the band's softer side when a lovely waltz episode appears at the song's center.
Folk melodies etched by electric guitar and voice (“Come to Glasgow, my darling / And we're never coming home again”) lend “Running with an Egg on a Spoon” an appealingly rustic and nostalgic feel, and while I've not been to “Surry Hills,” based on the luscious setting evoked by the band, it's definitely a place I'd welcome visiting, especially when wide open skies and soul-replenishing natural air are conjured so vividly by it. A brief foray into guitar raucousness notwithstanding (“The Sunlight Experiments”), Quarrels impresses as a twelve-song collection that makes a more-than-strong case for Apricot Rail's particular blend of instrumental pop and post-rock.