Published Jan 25, 2017Since 2013, Ben Fletcher and Tom Higham, two young men from a small town in northwest England, have been making soulful, brooding pop as Aquilo. Now, after plenty of touring, including an opening slot on Låpsley's latest North American headline tour, their hard work has paid off in the form of debut full-length Silhouettes.
Fletcher and Higham describe their record as "documenting personal experiences [they've] been through and are currently going through." The duo mix emotion-heavy ballads with carefully produced pop that evokes the landscape of their coastal hometown, Silverdale, as they grapple lyrically with complex relationships.
Silhouettes is laden with strings and delicate piano inflections from the title track onwards, which gradually build in intensity. Crisp percussion allows the band's music to avoid being dragged down by its oftentimes weighty subject matter, as heard on the more dance-oriented "Never Hurt Again." The duo create a dreamy soundscape from just clean guitar, a wash of synths and steady beats that buoy "You Won't Know Where You Stand." On slower, contemplative tracks like "All I Ever Wanted," beautiful vocal harmonies mesh with understated keyboards to envelope the listener.
Deeper into the record, the intricate and electronic nature of the band's sound becomes more apparent, as on the introduction to "Never Seen You Get So Low," where shades of the Blue Nile are evident. "Complication," meanwhile, is infectious, all anticipatory guitars and a lockstep beat that combine for pop perfection. Aquilo captivate most when they vary the tempo and instrumentation within their songs, and they do it often enough to make Silhouettes a strong debut overall. (Island)