Heaven, as Talking Heads once sang, is a place where nothing ever happens – and a lack of action is about the only thing wrong with The Shadow of Heaven, the debut album by Money. After forming in the UK at Manchester University and going through phases as Youth and Books, they’re currently known less for their music than for the big, philosophical proclamations that frontman Jamie Lee scatters
That should change when The Shadow of Heaven is released. It’s an unapologetically spiritual album, packed with more of those grandiloquent, quasi-religious statements, so it’s just as well that the music follows through: Lee’s breathy choirboy voice, multiplied and echoing, soars above or sinks gently into layers of liquid guitar, quiet but insistent snare drum rattles and stark piano chords. There is majesty here, thanks partly to judicious use of reverb (locked into the ‘cathedral’ setting) that makes the music drift like fog on the sea.
There are influences, of course: The Verve on ‘Bluebell Fields’, Big Star on ‘Black’, The Cure on ‘Cold Water’. But they’re treated in the same the way that post-rock bands like Sigur Rós and Explosions In The Sky have approached conventional rock structures and textures: elements are broken down or opened them up, letting them grow organically or hang in echoing space. The Shadow of Heaven is a must-have – including the album’s first thirty seconds, in which Lee’s falsetto reverberates, solo, around the album’s sonic cathedral. It’s as close to a spiritual experience as any indie album will come this year.