BEST OF 2014: 23. We Were Evergreen – Towards

A few years back I took the curiously organised approach of attempting to research all of the acts on the Green Man lineup that I hadn’t heard of. It wasn’t a universally positive experience but, having first alighted upon the acoustic majesty of The Sleeping Years, I was a fair way into my task when I first laid ears upon We Were Evergreen. It was a happy union and their set opening the Walled Garden stage on the Sunday afternoon was one of my highlights of the entire festival. This French indie-pop trio produce utterly, utterly joyous music and their early EPS – ‘We Were Evergreen’, ‘Flings’ and ‘Leeway’ – have all had a prominent position in my listening over recent years. I was so eagerly anticipating this album that it was always going to be hard for it to live up to the status I’d already attached to it. Plus, there wasn’t a UK vinyl release, which is a surefire way to make me slightly petulant. Thankfully, the delirious grins from Glanusk lived long in the memory and I stuck with it long enough for its full majesty to click.

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Having perfected their craft through several years spent releasing those glorious EPs and looping round the toilet circuit wooing everyone whose path they crossed, it felt like this album should have burst onto the scene and made them huge. I’ve still yet to encounter anyone who has listened to them and not liked them. Honestly. The headline here must be the abundance of effortlessly niggling choruses boasting the lulling and unrelentingly optimistic vocals of Michael Liot, but there’s a lot more to this inventive band than the throwaway sugar-rush of a cursory listen might suggest.

The electronic trickery is ramped up a little for their first long player after a slightly more standard indie jangle to those early songs. The curiously slovenly stumble at the start of ‘Quicksand’ subsides into a rather more predictably beautiful chorus, while ‘Belong’ skips about irresistibly, exploding for the chorus but retreating again for the verses. ‘Best Thing’ captures that sparkly-eyed, wide-grinned hook that completely suckered me on that Sunday lunchtime, with a pile up of ukulele, strings, piano and percussion ascending to a hearteningly cheery final run at its central, slightly wistful refrain “you could have been the best thing, I know”. Stand out ‘Daughters’ is a wonderful model of the slow-build, massive-release indie pop tune, concluding with more than a little swagger. That said, there’s little to pick at on this meticulously crafted debut. Oh, and there is a vinyl pressing but it only came out in France. A bit of clever searching should sort you out. As I said in Clash at the time of release, ‘Towards’ is effervescent electropop going for the head as well as the feet.

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