Pitchfork about this album:
„Known for their ferocious live show, the Brighton-based post-rock band’s long-time-coming debut is equal parts meditative and cathartic.
The year spanning 1998 to 1999 was a memorable one in the history of Cornwall, the UK’s most southwesterly county. In 1998, the Tall Ships, a fleet of traditionally rigged wooden boats, visited Falmouth harbor for a momentous race. South Crofty closed, the final stronghold of the county’s historic tin-mining industry. In 1999, Cornwall’s cliffs proved one of the best vantage points to witness a rare solar eclipse. These events were chronicled in my primary school exercise books, as they no doubt were in those of fellow young Falmouth-originators Ric Phethean, Matt Parker, and Jamie Bush, the trio that comprise the now Brighton-based post-rock band, Tall Ships.
Although it’d be a push to suggest that those events directly fed into their long-time-coming debut album, Everything Touching, it’s tempting to backtrack from their name and read the influence of those ancient, fleeting, stargazing industries into their music in order to give it some sense of place. Following two EPs, the band’s Big Scary Monsters debut doesn’t capture the ferocity of their live shows, which have been consistently powerful enough to keep people hanging on for a debut proper several years after the fact.
In terms of palpable influence, Everything Touching cherry-picks from all over the place: Youthmovies Soundtrack Strategies’ post-00s math leanings, Oceansize’s cliff-view sprawl, the more swashbuckling strains of Okkervil River and Modest Mouse, M83’s downcast glimmer, and Sigur Rós’ misty yawn. Not that there’s any particular Cornish sound, aside from perhaps Rephlex and Aphex Twin’s output, but the way the peninsula county juts out and only shares a single 50-mile border with the next one up, combined with the fact that bands rarely tour there, make it an ideal haven for weird sounds to flourish. No pinning the blame for the county’s lack of musical adventurism on Tall Ships at all, but it’s kind of a shame that their early relative isolation didn’t beget innovation, but a smooth alchemization of other bands’ styles.
That’s not to say that Everything Touching is a bad record. To anyone who hasn’t heard the aforementioned bands, it’ll probably seem quite wonderful, rendered equal parts industrially cathartic and beautifully meditative. And for those who’d cite those bands as part of some indie-math ABCs, Tall Ships’ own specific brand of alchemy is a good place to start when discussing their charms rather than limitations: the band’s 2010 EP, There is Nothing But Chemistry Here had a distinctly geological, scientific bent to its lyrics, discussing romance in terms of fissures and tectonic shifts– using the language of textbooks to be anything but, as it were.
That’s less prominent here, though the lovely „Ode to Ancestors” is carried over from EP to album, a quiet, glimmering thing worthy of a Sigur Rós support slot for the first half, a stomping skitter for the second. „You are a triumph of natural selection/ Every mutation leading to your perfection… This is my ode to your ancestors/ Appreciate your recipe/ Their million-year masterpiece,” Phethean sings in somewhat gloopy fashion, but deserving an A for lovelorn effort nonetheless. On the siren-stomp of „Phosphorescence”, recollection of a star-lit midnight skinny dip mounts to a cawed, knotty chorus where the sea’s depths only come to emphasize the naked swimmers’ worldly insignificance.
However, it’s a limited lyrical theme, and one that’s prone, as the title suggests, to get bowled over at the view of the stars and veer into „did you ever think about…” stoner wonder. And in terms of musical focus, Everything Touching could do with a narrower remit: the transition from „Phosphorescence” to the angular, melancholy „Oscar” feels like it’s bridging two different bands, and the climax provided by the bowling Katamari build of „Gallop” is wasted on the subsequent earnest, widdly closed-eye epic of „Idolatry”.
Although Everything Touching is post-rock at its most winsome, and rarely unpleasant to listen to, closer „Murmurations” might be the key to understanding why several years of triumphant live shows hasn’t translated into the ultimate debut album. At nine minutes long, it builds with a kind of tender promise that feels pretty transcendent and transporting as the final song of an encore, but lacks the craft to sit within the context of what’s essentially a 10-song indie rock record. But as with those historic events, perhaps for Tall Ships it’s about being there, rather than experiencing it in replica form.”