Pray Tell sounds amazing and I have no doubt the rest of the album will exceed my expectations. The fact that I can put on any of Stef's recordings -- records that I've heard hundreds of times before -- and still be shocked by how awesome they are speaks volumes. To be honest, if Stef started selling broken guitar strings on ebay I'd probably buy some just to know that I contributed something to ensure that he keeps making beautiful music.
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Emerging from the ashes of Shield Your Eyes in the summer of 2018, Stef Kett (guitar/vocals) and Henri Grimes (drums) started to jam on the concept of soul-spray music, enlisting bassist Marion Andrau before their first gig in October of the same year.
From that first airing, it was clear something special was coming together. An untethered, emotive deconstructing of romantic soul ballads played freely at high volume.
Interweaving blasts of vibrato style guitar, stirred drumming and expansive bass propel Kett’s emotive, almost strained renditions of self-penned love songs. Yeah Well is music with soul, rather than “soul music” in the classic sense, but it delivers the same emotional elevations.
Kett explains the approach to Yeah Well’s creation, “I write our songs as sort-of ballads, but we disguise that with up-tempo arrangements. We play at high-volume but it's not ever supposed to sound brash or thoughtless, the emphasis is always on playing with good feel and sensitive touch. The intention is it should create a sense of some sort of wrenching emotional drama, and that Marion's long-held bass notes hold your hand through the arrangements, and add a sense of calm and gravitas and clarify that it's songs and not just music.”
While many bands avoid the simplicity of love as the sole theme of their work, Reciprocate unburden their music by embracing it exclusively, like all great pop music it grabs you immediately and completely.
“I love the pursuit of trying to write love songs and, actually, I think it's become a very contrary thing to do nowadays,” explains Kett.
“It's like it has been disgraced and is some kind of a no-no for an underground band to pursue writing overtly romantically themed love songs and put them to rock music. That adds a certain kick to doing it and I feel really inspired to keep writing like this.”
Recorded at Spatch, London and mastered by James Plotkin, the band produced the record themselves to keep a grasp on their vision, focusing on vibe as much as perfection, while recording the tracks live. Recording more songs that are contained on the final album, those not fitting the vibe were discarded, while opener ‘Pray Tell’ was re-recorded to get it right.
This relentless focus on what the album needed to be has paid off, Yeah Well jumps out as a great rock n roll record. Take the funk-meets-no wave explosion of ‘Marion Andrau’, or the sweet, slightly distorted balladry of ‘Marble Arch’ as a case in point.
‘Yeah Well (Part 1)’ is classic blues collapsing in on itself, ‘Yeah Well (Part 2)’ is a reversed take on electric guitar from another realm which leads into ‘Hold’s bluesy, alt-rock. ‘Tascam’ is something else entirely, all sound manipulation and spoken word introduction.
Nothing is as simple or predictable as it seems in the world of Reciprocate and that makes Yeah Well a unique expression of love in rock form.
released May 1, 2020
Stef Kett - vocals, guitar
Marion Andrau - bass guitar
Henri Grimes - drums
Produced by Reciprocate
Recorded at Spatch, London
Mixed at New River Studios
Mastered by James Plotkin
Cover photography by Alex Mead
Live photography by Sonia Vico
Tascam drawing by Kazland
14.03.2020 - South Street Arts, Reading
18.03.2020 - The Old England, Bristol - CANCELLED
19.03.2020 - Wharf Chambers, Leeds - CANCELLED
20.03.2020 - Golden Lion, Todmorden - CANCELLED
21.03.2020 - Tatty Seaside Town, Brighton - CANCELLED
01.04.2020 - The Library, Oxford - CANCELLED
10.04.2020 - JT Saur, Nottingham - CANCELLED
14.04.2020 - Espace B, Paris - CANCELLED
15.04.2020 - Periscope, Lyon - CANCELLED
16.04.2020 - Cafk, Nantes - CANCELLED
17.04.2020 - Lézard, Le Mans - CANCELLED
18.04.2020 - L'Imposture, Lille - CANCELLED
19.04.2020 - New River, London - CANCELLED