Reviews

Modern Studies
Swell To Great

(Fire)

6/10

There’s a reason why a lot of summery pop records don’t get made in the middle of Scotland. It’s beautiful, of course, but also has a reputation of invoking music that’s melancholy and self-reflective. Brought together from each side of the border, Emily Scott and Rob St John used to play in each other’s bands before the unique sound of a Victorian pump organ prompted them to work on this folk-indebted soundscape. The result is something akin to She & Him, were they holed up in deepest Perthshire huddled around an antique harmonium, bracing Scottish winds chilling bones outside.

This instrument is the focal point for this collection of songs – the album rotates around it. Its sound is captured in detail – every squeak, every breath caught on tape, giving the whole thing a live feel. ‘Today’s Regret’ leans gently on ‘Kid A’-era Radiohead and there’s a comforting, lilting cadence to the likes of ‘Everybody’s Saying’. But most admirably Modern Studies manage to avoid the obvious twee pitfalls, even if they do occasionally run out of ideas.

New monthly memberships available

Here’s a new thing: our membership scheme now has a pay-monthly option, plus a load of exciting new digital stuff for people who support what we do. It’s actually excellent value, honest, and will help us continue to promote new independent artists and labels.

Sign up and you’ll receive our physical magazines delivered to your door, our digital editions, exclusive podcasts and playlists and access to our EXTREMELY glamorous Members Lounge. You’ll be the envy of all your friends.