These days, five years without a new album are enough to consider a reunion tour. Miles Away – from Perth, Australia – never broke up though. It did take them some time to overcome the difficulties of one band member moving to Berlin and produce a record the entire band was proud of.
Their 2005 release Consequences has survived the test of time. Fast, catchy, with a Ten Yard Fight/In My Eyes kind of vibe. Later releases already showed a musical development towards a more intense, slightly slower sound. Also, thematically, the band moved from anger and combativeness towards an aspiration to be able to cope with disappointment.
Miles Away’s musical development continues on their latest release Tide, produced by Defeater’s Jay Maas, who seems like a perfect match to assist Miles Away on their musical search. In addition, Andy Reitz (ex-Defeater) temporarily filled in the still-vacant position behind the drum kit. This duo influences the sound of the new Miles Away album in a very profound way. Where the band used to scream at you, the songs now feel like like a thunderous wave collapsing in the ground swell, throwing you back on the beach.
The first minute of the album should be skipped. A cheap keyboard intro with surging guitars distracts from the powerful kickoff of ‘Terra Incognita’. In my humble opinion, the clean vocals – as demonstrated in this and several other songs – are exactly that: Terra Incognita. And some areas are best left undiscovered. Unfortunately, Miles Away visits this newly discovered bounty island several times during Tide.
Powerful songs such as ‘Grateful’ – a homage to life on the road – and ‘Mousetraps’ illustrate the sheer power Miles Away possesses, kicking off ferociously, before catching a breath with a smart change of pace. The influence of playing with bands like The Carrier, Dead Swans and obviously Defeater adds a certain depth to the Miles Away sound. The same goes for ‘Balance’, a song with a beautifully executed sing-along with a slightly desperate edge. Before the rather mediocre clean vocals kick in again.
It’s an experiment taken a bit too far. The interludes, changes in pace and vocal differentiation all build up to a certain climax, which is undermined by the somewhat weak cleaner vocals. While Miles Away give us some exhilarating new sounds, overall the entire record feels like it has been recorded one or two years too late.
Track list – Tide
02. Terra Incognita
04. Let The Words Roll By
05. Ex Voto
10. Port Of Call
11. Under Tow
Miles Away are featured with a 2-page interview in The L.A. Journal #2. Pick up a copy here.
Written by Peter Kwint