Fake Teak are a four-piece alternative rock band based in London. The group was originally the musical brainchild of lead vocalist and bass player Andrew Wyld, evolving eventually into a range of musicians with eclectic styles and tastes. They belong to a rich lineage of left field, alternative artists and you can hear the influence of groups like Roxy Music, The Teardrop Explodes, Talking Heads and Sparks, along with more modern influences like Hot Chip, Vampire Weekend and LCD Soundsystem. I gave a very positive review to their eponymous debut album which you can read here.
The genesis of this EP, Achmelvich 2, is based on a band ritual where every summer they spend a week in the Highlands of Scotland, which affords the seclusion and lack of distractions to concentrate on their music. This EP is the second fruit of their labours, you can read my review of Achmelvich 1 here.
As with Achmelvich 1, it consists of three tracks each written by either different members of the group or a group collaboration. The EP begins with the melancholy, brooding synth pop of Cromford which brings to mind the reflective moments of late-era Bowie and Depeche Mode circa Enjoy The Silence. The song mentions “village greens”, a reference to the classic 1968 album by The Kinks, The Village Green Preservation Society.
Over an intricate, off-kilter beat, pulsing bass and Jo Wyld’s haunting synths, Andrew Wyld gives a fine vocal performance while lyrically painting a picture of a world where industry and commerce has, over time, slowly destroyed the aspects of life which are not material but have real value to people.
This is captured succinctly and poetically in a line like, “Time descended on the Earth like Arkwright on the spinning wheel…”, a reference to the Industrial Revolution. Towards the end the track reaches a powerful crescendo, with the guitar and bass working in tandem like early Joy Division, one of their noted influences.
The following Wake Up (Another Place), written and sung by Alastair Nicholls, continues with the theme of the world changing around us but is more specifically about the political turmoil and division of Brexit-era Britain.
Based around a beautiful guitar figure that Johnny Marr would be proud to have written, the music blossoms into a soundscape that mirrors the resigned despair of the lyrics: “We wake up in uncertainty, this back and forth becomes the norm, there is one thing that’s clear to see, the fragile fabric has been torn…”. With its understated grandeur and balanced, incisive social commentary, this is Fake Teak at their best.
The final track, Pylons, is the result of a group collaboration and inspired by the Scottish highlands where it was written. Similar to the way Josh Homme invites artists out to a studio in the desert to record in a unique environment, known as the Desert Sessions, Fake Teak here show the strong influence of their surroundings.
Opening with a gentle flurry of flutes and bagpipe-sounding synths, it develops into a hymnal and languid ode to the place of its creative genesis. As with the other songs on the EP, it is filled with melodic intricacies that reveal themselves upon repeated listening and brings proceedings to a satisfying, transcendent close after the lyrical conflict of the first two tracks.
Overall, this is another sophisticated set of songs from this highly intelligent and creative group. This EP sees them continue with a contemplative and thoughtful lyrical style, while musically spreading their wings in a myriad of subtle but effective ways. With such a consistently strong musical output, it’s only a matter of time before Fake Teak are recognized as one of Britain’s finest alternative groups.
VERDICT: 9.1 out of 10