NME - 8/10
Uncut - 3/5
Q - Clean Coloured Wire was #22 in the Q50 top tracks of the month
Sunday Times Culture (album of the week)
Daily Express 4/5
Dreampop is a beautiful, evocative, lavish phrase, and one that perfectly describes Engineers' second album.
Three Fact Fader almost didn't emerge at all, following troubles with Engineers' old record label. We can only hope this idiosyncratic, ambitious, gorgeous band have now found a safer home where they can get to work on album number three.
Not a band to rest on their laurels (and why would they after a four-year hiatus?) 'Helped By Science' feat. the Knife Edge String Quartet and 'Brighter As We Fall' demonstrate an unparalleled confidence for transforming the potentially lethargic into celestial respect. This culminates with the metronomic time lapse qualities of 'Crawl From The Wreckage'.
With defined purpose, the Knife Edge String Quartet reappear to add refined elegance to 'Emergency Room' and gravitas to 'Fear Is Gone', before the ambitious and successful sign off of 'What Pushed Us Together'. Whatever that might have been, it obviously worked. Engineers are more together now than ever before.
Let’s put it this way: I hear a lot of new music in the course of running this website, and on previous form I’d say it’s fair to estimate that maybe 70% does nothing for me at all, 20% is a pleasurable listen, and the last 10% are the albums I recommend to all my friends. Within that last 10% lie the handful of records – maybe four or five a year, rarely more – that blow me away so much that I know I’m going to go out of my way to follow their creators to hell and back. And it’s in that special handful that Three Fact Fader finds itself. It’s stunning, sumptuous, and the perfect antidote to the pompous indie-pop and tough-guy metallisms of the moment. Engineers are your new favourite band; go find out why.
Shoegazers rejoice! Four full years after Engineers first sauntered onto the scene flush with sure-footed sentiment and giddy thrust, the London four-piece finally return with the follow-up to their eponymous debut album, dragging with them a tremolo-heavy hypnosis honed and grown from their time on the sidelines.
They say it's the quiet ones you have to watch, but after a four year absence, Engineers are the quiet ones you simply must listen to. Three Fact Fader is certainly one of the finest albums of the year.
Immaculately crafted and executed with great control, Engineers' sound is unassuming yet all consuming. Brighter As We Fall, Helped By Science and Hang Your Head are shaped by the guitar shimmer of the Cocteau Twins and anchoring vocal arrangements born of Teenage Fanclub, the Stone Roses and the best of Seventies American West Coast harmonising.
This is a proper album: take a deep breath, dive in and become completely immersed. Tunes like Crawl From The Wreckage and Emergency Room are urgent washes of sound, What Pushed Us Together, a euphoric, space-age Beach Boys without a wave in sight.
... they've managed to assemble one of 2009's most devastating comeback records, one which finally justifies all the platitudes their potential attracted during their Echo days. While the influence of producer Thomas is prevalent throughout, particularly on the opening 'Clean Coloured Wire', which could have fitted quite succinctly on something like We Can Create, or the enigmatic ambience of the title work, where the cap of thought is doffed unashamedly towards the often understated influence of Chapterhouse.
Talk about defying the odds; Engineers haven't just confounded the critics who'd written them off completely, they've remarkably managed to raise the bar to a whole new level for an entire genre with Three Fact Fader. A triumph over adversity if ever there were one...
It’s appropriate that the droning opening track to Three Fact Fader builds out of silence, as it reflects Engineers' emergence from uncertain times. Although their resurfacing ironically coincides with a slight return for shoegaze, Engineers have embellished their dream-pop bedrock for album number two. Three Fact Fader is an LP bookended by lush electronic grooves, beautifully captured by the Harmonia-sampling Clean Coloured Wire and the lolloping What Pushed Us Together. Elsewhere, tastefully constructed string textures are strapped on to the quartet’s core instrumentation, their chamber pop timbres sounding like Field Music on a lengthy acid trip.
The most explicit development in the band’s sound, however, is in the realm of rhythm, equally reminiscent to the scintillating syncopation of Eno as Elbow during the shapeshifting Song For Andy. Considering that public support was a key factor in guiding this long-incubated project through difficult times, you’d forgive the band for being nervous about handing over the final outcome. But this return shows that Engineers shouldn't have worries, having successfully introduced pop nous and a pounding backbeat to their repertoire while retaining the dreamy appeal that made them special.
Through Clean Coloured Wire, they set out more strikingly their down tempo foraging, epic tune structuring and distant, but meaningful vocals.
Spacey instrumentals often start a climb towards the calming, mystified vocals of Phipps. Sometimes I Realise bears this out, when Mark Peters’ almost cyclical slow turning bass lines create an air of mystery, providing some direction and beefing up the exploration.
A maturing sombreness seeps through the mid-section of this album, setting the tone for meditative pondering especially in Brighter As We Fall. This is when the vocals remain at a consistent rhythmically pedestrian pace. It almost masks the deep inner searching that’s taking place. Crawl From The Wreckage, builds with deftness and oozes the expansive confidence of an early Elbow.
Despite the wide range of influences and inspirations (CSNY, Harmonia, Neu!) there is nothing particularly innovative or challenging about this album. It is just a beautifully crafted, sublime work that consistently reaches heights that few other bands can dream about. There’s lots going on but it never feels over-cluttered. During their four year hiatus they’ve clearly busied themselves with mastering every single aspect of their craft leading to the production of a work with instant appeal that actually reveals more and gets better with repeated visits.