'The most out-and-out gorgeous collection of songs you've heard in a long time'
Q (Q recommends)
'Hypnotic lullabies from beatific Brit newcomers...
the impact is electrifying’
'Stunning debut from leading lights of nu-gaze...Engineers are never anything less than beautiful' 9/10
There is a lot to be said about the Engineers' confessed twin influences - Talk Talk's hymnal Spirit of Eden and Dennis Wilson's soft rock symphony Pacific Ocean Blue. The NME may have lumped this quartet in with a nascent shoegazing revival, but their debut album is much more about plumbing oceanic, dreamy depths.
The opening track, Home, spells it out - the mood is starlit and twinkling, while the dynamic, much, like the beats and Simon Phipps's vocal, is soft and slow. If anything, the Engineers are kindred spirits of Manchester's Elbow and Doves, proper, grown-up bands with a prog-rock attention to texture but a modern, pared-back approach to grandeur. The Engineers' blueprint doesn't vary often, but there is always one ingredient that rises out of the mist - the sombre piano that New Horizons floats in on; the trail of shimmery strings that ends Forgiveness; and the lazy ambience of Said and Done. Only at the end, on One in Seven are guitars deployed in a stormy Ride / My Bloody
Valentine fashion. An enormously
Like northern compatriots Ella Guru, this Manchester/London quartet wrap idyllic West Coast soft-pop in warm ambient fuzz. It works like a Californian dream, too. Simon Phipps' vocals breeze in on banks of synthetic clouds, but there's a richness of tone and velvet toughness to the mild psychedelia of Forgiveness or Come In Out Of The Rain that resonates. They've a tendency to float amiably, yet when the blissed-out guitars and gauzy harmonies dovetail perfectly - as on the outstanding Thrasher - they're as gently transcendent as Mercury Rev.
Engineers are clearly not a band to follow fashion. Revisiting the sound of shoegazing – the once despised indie genre of the late ’80s and early ’90s – is about as anti-fashion as you can get. There’s certainly nothing remotely jerky or angular here; the closest they get to rocking out is Thrasher and that must surely be a contender for most inappropriate song title of the year so far. But, make no mistake, this is big, epic, widescreen music, albeit wonderfully understated. Tracks such as Said And Done sound like Doves in their more ethereal, less anthemic moments and when there are smatterings of electronica (Waved On) they are as much Air as My Bloody Valentine. But Engineers are never anything less than beautiful. Not so much shoegazing as skyscraping.
Manchester experimentalists Engineers crank up the reverb and get into Sigur Rós positions for arich and haunting sonic assault with a baroque edge. This six track mini-album has it all, from the washy keys that gently usher in A Given Right to the crashing acoustic Coldplay-isms of Forgiveness. Come In Out Of The Rain is abit of a curio, sounding almost as if XTC had monopolised the studio for one session only. But they quickly recover their typical forward-looking space-pop selves with Nature’s Editing, which splashes subdued guitars, drum echoes and subtle vocal harmonies in every direction. Pictobug is a sweeping and simple finale, bearing a similarity to Radiohead’s Kid A interlude Treefingers. Folly,it seems, is here to give Manc rock a much-needed cerebral shot in the arm. But could Engineers save its dwindling local scene? I think so.