Stillhound have spent years immersing themselves in their music, and their homeland, to form a sparkling diamond of a debut album.
This Edinburgh based trio of Fergus Cook (vocals/guitar), Laurie Corlett-Donald (synths/guitar) and Dave Lloyd (synths) – joined by drummer Cat Myers for this record (also of Honeyblood) – started making music together at high school. Their debut album ‘Bury Everything’ (out on 23 September via Lost Oscillation Records) was written, and mostly recorded, during trips to a cabin in the north of Scotland. The result is ten tracks of electro-pop perfection.
The synth-fuelled throb at the beginning of album opener, and first single, ‘Spring Conscious’ makes for a breathtaking start before a blissed-out chorus sends the track soaring upwards on a rush of dreamy synth hooks. I’m instantly drawn to their sound and, after numerous listens, this track is probably my favourite. However, you’d be wrong if you thought the pace and quality of the album decreased after track one. Five minutes doesn’t feel like long enough to be immersed in one of Stillhound’s stunning soundscapes and luckily another another quickly begins – this time the deliciously funky dance floor filler ‘Time Enough For Love’ with a chorus that instantly gets under your skin. Two tracks in and it’s easy to see where Stillhound are going with this – taking their musical influences and personal loves and using them to inspire intricately layered pop tracks.
It doesn’t stop there. ‘Lofty Ambitions’ begins with Cook’s voice at the fore, backed by echoing synths. It’s a perfect example of how this band marry vocals with music. As Cook shows off his full vocal range, the melody follows him and the instruments wrap around his words. That’s not to say that this band don’t know when to use a simple groove – there are plenty examples of that on this album.
On ‘Think This Way’ there is more of an indie guitar-based sound whilst retaining the electronic backdrop. This is even more prominent on ‘Seethe Unseen’, with its echoing call and response vocal layers that are reminiscent of early Duran Duran. ‘Summer Nightmares’ takes us fully into clubbing territory while ‘When Ghosts Get Angry’ is a more industrial sounding, and rockier, affair. These changes of pace within the consistent elements of Stillhound’s style are addictive. The nods to the bands that have influenced them (Foals, Tears For Fears and Daft Punk to name a few) are there but don’t overpower their unique sound.
It’s hard not to be wooed by Cook’s vocals as his tone shifts from soulful and soaring to hushed and urgent. On ‘Shy’ there are moments where it sounds like he is simply indulging in the sound of the words as he swoons and stretches “frustratingly shy” and “God knows why”.
‘Bury Everything’ starts slowly before ending with an ethereal sound in the ilk of Sigur Rós. It’s a fitting conclusion to an album that not only provides a soundtrack to a night out in the city but could also be the backdrop to standing atop a mountain and surveying the world beneath.
All of the tracks on this album have the same expansive sound, but each has its own quirks – be that through guitar riffs or piano chords, thundering beats or stabbing synths. Stillhound have managed to make their sound recognisably samey whilst retaining a freshness that excites with each track.
‘Bury Everything’ is an electro-pop treasure that demands to be unearthed and played repeatedly.