Album #127: Airiel – The Battle of Sealand

  • Released: 2007
  • Origin: Chicago, Illinois, USA
  • Label: Self-released
  • Best Track: Think Tank

In 2017, I played the hell out of Airiel’s second album Molten Young Lovers. I’ve never got round to listening to their debut though, released a full decade earlier.

There’s a hell of a lot of this modern shoegaze (nu-gaze?) about, and a lot of it sounds very similar and uninspired. Probably what makes Airiel stand out for me is Jeremy Wrenn’s vocals, much more prominent in the mix than is common in the genre, at least on the second album.

They’re a little more buried on The Battle of Sealand, but still striking. His voice is strong yet weary, reminiscent of Shed Seven’s Rick Witter, and fitting in with a gazy style that has more in common with indie-rock than dance or electronica. Saying that, it does end with something of a dance-a-thon in ‘The Big Mash-Up’.

I’d say this record was outdone by what came ten years later, but it’s still very strong and accomplished, especially for a debut. ‘Think Tank’ is a belter with its driving riff, and Wrenn’s vocals are best displayed on the awesome ‘Peoria’.

I hope it’s not 2027 before we hear another Airiel album, but they do seem to put a lot of labour into their craft.

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