‘Lifelong memories and shimmering glossy textures encourage us to get nostalgic.’
Intro to As We Leave
Having only released their debut track via Abbey Records in May 2020, Isle of Wight four-piece ‘As We Leave’ may well still be a stranger to you. However, in them having known each other for the best part of 25 years, the same can’t be said for the band themselves. And this is something that truly shines through on their latest release ‘Stories We Tell’ (out 19th August). Harnessing the memories made during lifelong friendship and combining them with psychedelic-edged musicality, they offer us a window into the one off moments that have shaped them and encourage us to feel just as nostalgic about our own lives. Read more at: Behind the Music: Interview with As We Leave.
Filled with harmonic warmth and delicate motifs, a combination of echoing guitars and effortless drums set up the sensations we can expect to experience throughout ‘Stories We Tell’. Comforting in nature, it’s the sort of atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re receiving a musical hug. One from an old friend that you haven’t seen for some time perhaps. Or maybe you’re sitting round a campfire on an evening in the height of summer. Either way, at this incredibly early stage it’s the perfect way of highlighting the whole intention of the track and as the initial lyrics appear, this only gets enhanced further.
Instrumentally switching to take on a more reserved sound, the opening ringing reverberations are replaced by softer strums and distanced bass. Set as they are in the mix you find yourself being drawn to them, but while this is the case you are not distracted by them. Working wonderfully in the background, they form the ideal foundations for Caine’s vocals as they begin to tell us the story. A story built of friendship, memories and lives lived. But while most tracks contain a storyline of sorts, this one, right from the initial line of ‘I found you many years ago from now’, feels different. And it should as not only is this Caine’s autobiographical reflection, but Kyle’s, Tom’s and Kit’s as well.
Continuing through the first verse, the sensation of this being a collaborative reflection shines brightly via a mix of musical subtlety and soft lyrical lines. Touching on those moments of friendship, phrases such as ‘Fire nights, sipping wine, indulging delights’ conjure up the most wonderful images while sustained chords bring added depth to a sound that’s already gorgeous. Equally, in closing out the verse with the phrase ‘Stories that would roll off tongues, they’re never far behind’ the whole atmosphere oozes nostalgia.
Increasing this by not just one but a few levels, on arriving at the chorus the first time round you barely register that it is in fact the chorus. Achieved so seamlessly, the sense of gentle and wonderfully comforting musicality is uninterrupted even though there are noticeable developments. Instrumentally, guitar fragments play an increasingly key role while lightly bouncing bass lines do likewise underneath lyrical phrases which have transitioned from short delicate statements, to soothing sustained ones. And yet, it really is seamless.
Doing so in a likewise manner, the journey back to verse content is via a return of the opening instrumental which feels just as perfect as those aforementioned transitions. However, the lyricism on this occasion subtly changes direction from experiences to inner feelings and comparisons of how life has altered. Reading this you may think that as a result the ever-present sensation to this point changes too. But it doesn’t as these lines feel just as beautiful as the previous ones.
Highlighting this perfectly, the phrase ‘Remember when, you lacked worries and confidence’ wonderfully juxtaposes the carefree innocence of childhood with the realities of adulthood. Equally, the line ‘Such big dreams and how they all came crashing down’ encourage you to consider your own ‘what-ifs.’ Literally and metaphorically singing above the shimmering gloss of the accompaniment, it’s like a group of mates telling a string of ‘Oh, do you remember when…’ style anecdotes to music that’s as nostalgic as the memories themselves.
With the majority of the storytelling coming from the lyrical elements to this point, after the final chorus the undercurrent of psychedelica that has been bubbling away in the background blossoms. Transforming the sound, a sea of swooning guitar melodies perfectly take the place of vocals and interweaving among each other, it’s as though they too are sharing their own contentment filled memories. In what is a truly dreamy track, this really is the most wonderfully dreamy instrumental. However, with Caine delivering the closing phrase of ‘You and I, we’re reaching for the stars in everything we do,’ you can’t help but feel completely included within the stories they have been telling.