Thousand Yard Stare: The Panglossian Momentum (Stifled Aardvark) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, February 20th, 2024  

The Panglossian Momentum

Stifled Aardvark

Jun 17, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Sometimes a change is as good as a rest. In the case of Thousand Yard Stare, they’ve managed to accomplish both with exceptional results.

Thousand Yard Stare’s story began in Slough, England over three decades ago. Predating Britpop and its regressive nature, Thousand Yard Stare had more in common with bands such as James and The Wonder Stuff (with whom they often played) yet found themselves thrown together with shoegaze bands like Ride and Slowdive, more by logistics than sonics.

A handful of EPs on the band’s own Stifled Aardvark imprint followed suit before signing to major label Polydor culminating in 1992’s breakthrough 45 “Comeuppance”—still their highest UK chart placed single—and acclaimed debut album, 1992’s Hands On. The smart money was on the five-piece to follow their aforementioned tour buddies onto mainstream success. However, as it often happens, tensions between the band and the label reached a breaking point. Despite putting out their second album, Mappamundi, the following year, it was all over by the end of 1993. Thousand Yard Stare were no more.

Until 2015 that is, when the band got back together initially for a one-off show, more as a declaration of unfinished business. Nevertheless, the band’s reformation triggered the urge to write new material, and 2016’s Live At Electric Studios provided more than a taster for what was coming next. The following year’s double EP DeepDreaming/StarGrazing manifested that the five-piece’s experimental inclinations were coming to the fore as previously unexplored sounds and textures emerged from their recordings.

When they announced their intention to release a new album, 27 years after the last one, it set pulses racing. Not so much in expectation, but more around the element of surprise conjured by their two previous EPs. Recorded, mixed, and engineered by the band themselves at various points throughout 2019, The Panglossian Momentum is the sound of a band rediscovering what made them tick in the first place.

Inspired by Voltaire’s Candide and its fulfillment of naïve optimism, The Panglossian Momentum tackles the intrusion of personal data, emotional loss, self-reflection, and disenchantment among friends across its eight pieces. Musically, it represents a diversity few would have expected from the band the first time round.

Stephen Barnes’ unmistakable lyrical prowess rises to the fore on songs like “Schism Algorithm” and “Precious Pressures,” while the seven-minute opus “Spandrels” and eight-and-a-half-minute long closing gambit “A Thousand Yards – A Panglossian Momentum” highlight his fellow bandmates as accomplished musicians and arrangers in their own rights.

Nothing is permanent but change, and while it took two-and-a-half decades for that realization to hit Thousand Yard Stare, it was well worth the wait. (www.thousandyardstare.co.uk)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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