This is a ghost album conceived in pain and doubt and which, as I write, will sadly no longer be released. It was scheduled to come out on the Bella Union label in April 2018.
Fraught sessions by the UK duo of Jack Cooper and James Hoare took place in their own recording studio in North London. This, together with Hoare's depression, initially led to the decision to scrap everything. Following three albums in three years they were ready to call it a day.
After previously rejecting anything that smacked of digital music, Cooper explains the source of their confusion: “We thought we’d try to go slightly more in that direction. Drum machines, synths and so on. We started to question what people wanted from us and in the process I think we briefly lost the idea of what the band was”.
They took some time out to re-consider their options and in the summer of 2017 they started over with newfound confidence and ended up recording the whole album in just two weeks.
Previously, the dark melancholia of their sound has, with good reason, been likened to the sombre mood of The Velvet Underground. 'Up!' is by no means a party record but there's nothing that gives away the turbulent back story behind its creation or justifies it being abandoned.
A tentative, albeit subdued, optimism pervades the tracks. The opening line of the first track (Needles In My Eyes) is "Push the button , wait for rain and pray" but a title like Not Gonna Burn Myself Anymore can be read as a statement of intent.
Foul & Fair sounds free and folky and despite the thinly veiled paranoia of Someone's Out To Get You the mood is not despairing.
Cooper seemed to fear the worst when “If it ends tomorrow, I'd feel really good about the work we've done together” and then announced in February 2018: "Due to an irreconcilable breakdown we will no longer be working with each other".
It is to be hoped that the album will see the light of day eventually.