Redwood - Beside A Shallow Sun | Album Review



It’s pretty safe to say that Redwood take a slow cook approach to releasing new material. Despite being a fixture of the UK indie-emo scene for some time now, the Hertfordshire group have taken a slow and most steady approach to releasing content, earnestly sharing extended plays and standalone singles throughout the last several years. It’s quite the contrast to many of their peers who chose to flood the streamwaves with content in order to gain traction, but Redwood’s abated approach has worked in their favour, with each offering seeing the band adding increasing intricacy to their sound with concentrated focus. Exemplifying such an approach is Beside A Shallow Sun, the band’s long awaited debut and a release that see’s the band adding further seasoning to their sound in the form of delectable dashings of math rock, post rock and shoegaze.


This record may have been sat upon the horizon for a some time now, but Beside A Shallow Sun is clearly the product of patience and extended consideration. A labour of love, as the record sways from the sunrise mists of ‘Dark’ and into the upbeat progression and math undertones of ‘Gemini' - a track that amalgamates the intricacy of Delta Sleep with the romanticism of Grumble Bee - it’s paramount that the band have spent considerable time and energy engineering this debut to truly represent their artistic merit. In an age where many bands frantically shoehorn unnecessary genre dynamism into ones sound in a desperate attempt to enhance their art, Beside A Shallow Sun is the sound of an act that have taken a more considerable approach to ensure their output is fluid, luscious and educated.


The phenomenal ‘Lilac’ is a fantastic embodiment of this. Ushered in with wistful indie-pop, the track is intentionally unassuming before exploding with surgically precise tapping almost akin to Chon and with riffs so jagged they’re reminiscent of the bygone art of Arcane Roots. This is essentially the crux of this record and Redwood as a whole. So much content and influences have been boiled down and chemically refined to form a brand new sound that’s easily reminiscent yet unique.


Whilst such name-drops may conjure images of bands dealing with rabid technically and heft, Beside A Shallow Sun is pensive, quietly contemplative, and to a certain degree, quaint. Not only is this record intricate both instrumentally and in melody, this album is throughly substantial in regards of the topics it explores, with frontman Alex Birchall using the platform to exercise mental anguish. There’s a real sense of bold catharsis to this record, one that’s authentic, can be shared by listeners and adds additional weight to the already bountiful substance of this record. The tenderly soft strings of ‘Sit In Silence’ see’s the band dipping their toes into the folk math waters drawn by Wild Cat Strike prior to bathing in shimmering tones and the colossal modern emo of ‘Rumour Night’ is a wondrous moment reserved for expelling self-doubt for relishing in the joys of creativity.


In relation, the therapeutic ornate aura of the post-rock focused ‘Nightshade’ is one of the record’s most spectacular moments. Comforting and magnificent, the track is a starlight moment of tranquillity complete with distant crashing, lullaby shoegaze and soothing atmospherics that’s almost on par with the some of the titans of the post rock game. It’s a fantastical unprecedented moment of clarity, one that’s brilliantly juxtaposed with the noise-tinted danceable melancholia of proceeding ‘Fiending’ and the explosive dynamics of the ironically titled ‘Blue Moment’.


As the record seeps into the distorted slumber of the closing title track, it’s effortlessly understandable why Redwood have garnered such devoted respect despite their humbly modest output as a band. Granted, there may be a moments where the band could have easily pushed the experimental envelope further within this release - such as in the case of ‘Theme Park’ and ‘Ate My Weight’ - but still, this is a formidable debut displaying towering promise. In all, Beside A Shallow Sun is not only a fantastic endeavour toying with a myriad of stylings for atmospheric and emotional effect, it’s also an effervescently pleasant introduction to a band that’s on course for further acclaim in a number of different scenes and fields. It may be a commonly used and hyperbolic sentiment, but truly, Redwood are set for great things indeed.


Score: 8/10


Beside A Shallow Sun is self-released November 6th.

Pre-order the record here.

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