|Something On High|
Sivu — Something On High
♣ Žádné dvě písně na tomto 11–trackovém albu nezní podobně, ale se successive tunes budete vpravováni dále do jeho světa křehkosti a naléhavosti.
♣ It’s a beautiful record and there is no way around it.
♣ Sophisticated, idiosyncratic indie pop from this British singer/songwriter.
Location: St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, Cambridge ~ Waterloo, UK
Album release: OCTOBER 13, 2014
Record Label: Atlantic Records, Static Signals
01 Feel Something 3:27
02 Rumination 1:07
03 Bodies 3:50
04 Better Man than He 3:15
05 Can't Stop Now 3:40
06 Love Lives in This House 3:39
07 My Oh My 3:40
08 Miracle (Human Error) 3:43
09 Sleep 3:58
10 Communicate 3:50
11 Departure 3:14
12 Family Tree 3:40
℗ 2014 Warner Music UK Limited
Produced: Alt J Charlie Andrew
REVIEWER: CHARLIE MOCK; SCORE: ****
♣ Having the producer of a Mercury-winning album on board for your debut can’t hurt your chances of success and James Page, the man behind the moniker, clearly wasn’t taking any chances by letting Charlie Andrew on board. Lending a hand on Alt–J’s ‘An Awesome Wave’ that took the title in 2012, Andrew seems to have the formula for success printed on the insides of his eyelids, not that James necessarily needs it. Steadily growing in following for the last few years, Sivu has graced ones to watch bulletins and introducing stages a plenty; no longer the new guy, he’s got something to prove and Something On High does exactly that.
♣ There’s something about this album that sucks you in. One minute, you’re a sceptical bastard moaning about singer songwriters and how really, they can’t do anything new, the next you’re swaying around the room with your eyes closed and your arms wide like a convert that’s just experienced awakening. It’s a beautiful record and there is no way around it. Don’t let that fool you though, it’s also bleak as hell. But here, bleak is used in the best possible sense of the word. ‘Something On High’ is an awe inspiring kind of bleak, where lyrics like “Are you afraid of death? ‘Cause I am too; ‘cause there’ll be no more me and there’ll be no more you” make you realise just how fragile life is. At times, the record is even a cry for help; “Is there anybody out there? Because all I can hear is dead noise.”
♣ In all honesty, Sivu does a pretty good job at covering most emotions. ‘Cant’ Stop Now’ showcases the positivity of someone who truly knows the meaning of not giving up, whilst ‘Departure’ verges on lullaby territory, daring you drift into its realm of escapism. By the time penultimate track ‘Communicate’ rolls around, there’s barely a sensibility that hasn’t registered. But, and take note, it’s ‘Something On High’s’ subtlety that makes it just so good at what it does; it’s a far cry from the “grab a box of tissues and the one you love” kind of emotional. ‘Something On High’ is earnest, intelligent and more than anything, sincere. :: http://diymag.com/
By Mary Chang on Tuesday, 7th October 2014 at 12:00 pm; Score: 9/10
♣ From his very first single ‘Better Man Than He’ with a promo video filmed from inside an MRI machine, it was clear that Sivu would be an artist with a difference. Early on in his career, Page’s sound under his moniker Sivu was described by many as ‘eclectic’, and while using this adjective to describe his music is good, I don’t think the one word does his style justice. What makes ‘Something on High’, Sivu’s debut album for Atlantic Records, particularly of interest is that no two songs on this 11–track album sound alike, yet with successive tune, you’re drawn further into his world of fragility and poignancy.
♣ Known to his mum as James Page, like many young people wanting a change of scenery, the singer/songwriter left Cambridgeshire for the bright lights of London. As might be expected for sensitive souls such as his, the transition took an emotional toll on him, causing him to reflect on the meaning of life and an individual’s place in this world. It’s one of the reasons not to be surprised that a major theme of the LP is the finding of and acceptance of the fragile, tender beauty of life in desperate, lonely situations. If that sounds pretty despondent, it is. But it is meant to be, reminding you of the painful cries of Daughter’s Elena Tonra on ‘Landfill’ and ‘Smother’, leaving you wondering why Communion didn’t snap up Page for their illustrious roster. (He also happens to be touring as the main support for another Communion artist, the Mercury Prize–nominated Nick Mulvey, starting on Friday.) Was he just too out there, too weird? But that’s a conversation for another time…
♣ The album is peppered liberally with Sivu’s past successful singles and EP contents, which makes the whole affair a treasure trove for new fans to discover anew while providing a handy. Remarkably upbeat past single ‘Can’t Stop Now’ comes in at the fifth position on this album and provides a good dose of levity. ‘Better Man Than He’, with its oddly comforting repeated “lo lo los”, was written by Page about a friend’s troubles, but it has a wonderful everyman feeling, “we’ll find faith in the most magical of places / and find home in the smallest of rooms / we’ll find life in the most barren of faces / we’ll touch Christ in impending doom”.
♣ It is probably now time to note that while I don’t think he planned on it specifically, religion is another natural theme on this album, as existentialism and mortality are explored in this past summer’s brilliant single ‘Miracle (Human Error)’ I reviewed back in June. The allegory of Noah’s Ark specifically is used as a plot device in previous EP title track ‘Bodies’, with the mesmerising rhythm and Page’s sweeping melodic vocal sonically conjuring up the image of looming, destructive floodwaters as a metaphor for wiping the slate clean and starting over in life.
♣ And there are even more brilliant gems beyond these, all eliciting the purest of emotions. ‘Sleep’ is the self–deprecating, 2014 sister to the Smiths’ ‘Sing Me to Sleep’, with the tear–jerky lyrics “I’m a cruel, cold–hearted waste of space / now let me sleep so I can slip away” quite possibly going beyond in the waterworks stakes than Morrissey’s own. Album opener ‘Feel Something’ seems to speak to society’s tendency for indifference, or at least indifference on the surface with hiding all true feelings inside. (Sounds a bit like typical English stiff upper lip, eh?) When Page croons, “’cause I don’t really care if you break me / I’m reading signals in the dark that’s gonna find and take me down to our death”, you’d have to be a stone not to feel an ache deep within your heart. Loneliness and the desire to reach out and touch base with someone far away, either physically or emotionally, is examined wonderfully in ‘Communicate’, as the soft strings and other instrumentation beautifully frame Page’s falsetto.
♣ Page has said the title of this album, ‘Something on High’, was inspired by the Vincent Van Gogh painting ‘Sorrowing Old Man (At Eternity’s Gate)'; the Dutch artist completed the work 2 months before committing suicide. He has said he chose the album title not for its religious overtones but to reflect the personal self–doubt and uncertainty he felt while he was writing the songs in unfamiliar surroundings. However, taking into account the final product that will be out in the shops next week, Page should be proud of his art and confident that the truest sentiments he has put into his music will find many new fans able to relate to and eagerly embrace those feelings. :: http://www.theregoesthefear.com/
Artist Biography by Timothy Monger
♣ Under the name Sivu, British singer/songwriter James Page writes and records sophisticated, often darkly toned indie pop. Born in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, Page spent his teenage years playing bass in indie and punk bands, eventually moving to London to expand his musical horizons. Influenced by pop mavericks like Björk and Beck, he had already begun to work quietly on solo material when in 2011, he crossed paths with Alt–J's producer Charlie Andrew. The two struck up a friendship and began working together, recording Sivu's debut single, "Better Man Than He," which was supported by an inventive music video of Page singing the song from within an MRI machine in London's St. Bart's Hospital. The release of a 2013 EP called I Lost Myself as well as a handful of other singles drew comparisons to artists like Wild Beasts, Gotye, and Alt–J, the latter of whom recruited Page for a guest spot on their 2014 album This Is All Yours. His debut album, Something on High, arrived in September 2014.
By Dan Carson, October 3, 2014; Score: 6/10
♣ Self–loathing and repentant lyrics from the former bailiff.
Ex–bailiff James Page began spinning escapist pop melodramas as an antidote to a life split between his tiny flat in a grim south London tower block and various dead–end jobs. As a result, the 24–year–old's debut album as Sivu isn't the cheeriest fare. 'Bodies' is a deft slow-burner, and 'Communicate'’s gentle brass shows a cultivated lightness of touch, but Page's wearily repentant lyrics tend to drag — except on gritty highlight 'Sleep'. "I'm a cruel cold–hearted waste of space, now let me sleep so I can slip away," he mewls, while crunchy Britpop guitars snap like rubber bands. He ought to save the apologies and descend into full–on self–loathing mode more often.
Roisin Deady, MONDAY 13TH OF OCT 2014 BY JAMIE OTSA
Agent: (UK) ; (US)
Better Man Than He is the stunning introduction to Sivu. It will be released as a 7" and digital single via ASL Records on February 25th alongside a hand–stamped version by No Recordings available exclusively in North America. The single has already picked up plays across the likes of Huw Stephens, John Kennedy and Steve Lamacq.
Born in Cambridge but presently working in a call centre in Waterloo, 24–year–old Sivu assimilates an unusual mix of sounds and textures. His biggest influences are the lilting melodies of Frank Sinatra, the left–field pop of Bjork or Wild Beasts, and particularly Beck — a singer and songwriter who nonetheless doesn’t suit the “singer–songwriter” tag, as Sivu’s own intricate but ambitious sound is a testament to. ‘Better Man Than He’ blends dreamy acoustics and subtle electronic touches into a sound that befits Sivu’s idiosyncratic moniker (it’s his surname — Page — in Finnish).
Sivu formed a close early relationship with his producer Charlie Andrew, who produced Alt–J’s Mercury–Award–winning ‘An Awesome Wave’. The pair met a year ago whilst Sivu was playing guitar for another band, keeping his solo material largely a secret (Charlie found out, and asked him to come back and play his own stuff). And so Sivu’s days were between the studio and Waterloo, with nights dedicated to a series of “brutal” open mic nights, during which this material was road–tested, and bought to vivid life.
|Something On High|