I've been trying to remember the first time I heard the Aislers Set, and I can't. Washington? New York? It doesn't matter. What I do remember is how I felt watching them play: like jumping up and down, like dancing. I hardly ever feel like dancing. But the chiming guitars, the rumbling floor tom, the droning organ, the jangling tambourine, and those dreamy, faraway melodies – who was I to resist? At that moment the Aislers Set were everything pop music should be.
And they did that weird thing that the best pop music does: it sounds simutaneously brand new and timeless, somehow inevitable. The first time you hear it feels like the hundredth, and — take it from me — the hundredth feels just like the first.
– Marty Donald
Where were you when you first heard The Aislers Set's "The Last Match"? Shining like a beacon of song-driven sanity amidst the morass of trend-obsessed indie-dom, "The Last Match" was that kind of record. One that fuelled fond memories, sparked love affairs and reminded us all of the power of songs and songcraft and POP. It's chiming guitars and indelible melodies were heard everywhere, from London to Tokyo to Glasgow to Malmo. Where were you when you first heard "The Last Match"? Chances are pretty good that if you're reading this you remember.
And now The Aislers follow-up in stunning fashion with "How I Learned To Write Backwards." Brimming with drunken romanticism, sharp pop sensibilities and timeless melodies, the new Aislers album offers 11 new musical proofs of the power of classic tunes. Helmed by writer/player/producer extraordinaire Amy Linton, The Aislers revel in the history of great POP, spiking their classicist 60s-tinged tunes with pure post-punk energy and originality of bands like the Fire Engines and The June Brides. Every song is a meticulously constructed sound world, where the arrangement and instrumentation sublimely, uncannily bring each tune to completeness.
Ranging from the baroque 60s pop of opener 'Catherine Says' to the uptempo C86-flavored indie-pop of "Languor In The Balcony' to the '79 style punk of 'The Train #2' and the late-night loneliness of 'Unfinished Paintings,' "How I Learned To Write Backwards" expertly winds together so many strands of pop history with such personality, atmosphere and style that there's never any doubt that you're listening to a band with vision. Far from being a "name the reference" game, The Aislers use the past as inspiration rather than a blueprint, so the echoes you might hear of, say, Phil Spector's Wall of Sound or Laura Nyro's soulful lyricism are so well-integrated into the Aislers's sound that they're more akin to the spice in the stew rather than the stock of the soup.
The undisputed greatness of the Aislers has won them a rabid following amongst the indie public, and they can count as fans and tourmates such diverse groups as Belle & Sebastian, Black Dice, The Gossip and Sleater-Kinney. Excellent press has come from all corners of medialand, from The Village Voice and Spin to Chickfactor and Big Takeover. They were very well-received on their UK and Swedish tours last spring, and their session for the BBC's John Peel has been aired several times due to popular demand. Where "The Last Match" succeeded on all levels, "How I Learned To Write Backwards" is even stronger and looks set to reach even more people, more ears, more places. -+-
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