Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Review: Assemblage 23 – 'Endure'


Futurepop / ebm veteran Assemblage 23, AKA Tom Shear, returns with his eighth full-length studio effort in the form of 'Endure'. Despite the futurepop genre laying claim to the act, over the course of the past fifteen or so years with every release Shear's albums become more and more identifiable purely as Assemblage 23. He sticks to his guns as fads and fashions come and go, but every so often drops something new into the mix to keep things fresh. And 'Endure' is no exception.

With an strong emphasis on melody and emotion set to steady dance beats the songs don't stray too far his tried and tested formula, but it still after a decade-and-a-half hits home in the right way. Some bands are in a constant state of musical evolution, but Shear knows what he likes, and he is damn good at it too.

Sing-a-long and dance-a-long go hand-in-hand as always with 'Endure' yielding another strong selection of well written and well produced cuts such as 'Afterglow', 'Salt The Earth', 'Call The Dawn', 'Butterfly Effect', and 'Grid' in particular all aimed at the dance floor. But the album's crowning achievement is definitely the parting shot 'December' which is an instant classic by anyone's standards.

The album is on the whole very well produced as we would come to expect from Shear. Yet there is one niggling factor in a few places that seem to make Shear's voice sound thinner than usual. An uncharacteristic oversight perhaps, but on the whole the production adequately reflects the brilliant craftsmanship and songwiting that has gone into the album.

'Endure' isn't a divine revelation that turns the genre on its head. Nor is it a turning point in Shear's career. What it is is a brilliant Assemblage 23 album. For a band whose influence can be so widely heard in a range of modern acts it is rather satisfying that Shear hasn't been tempted to take a page out of anyone else's playbook and has instead to look beyond genre trappings and stay true to his vision and sharpen it. The end result of which is a very enjoyable experience.  

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