Not for ages has a new group come along with such a rich and flourishing sound as Another Sky, whose agitated take on alt-rock has grown ever more captivating since the ‘Forget Yourself’ EP introduced them two years ago. The London quartet’s first long-form effort, ‘I Slept On the Floor’ is a strident, determined step up to have their piece heard.
Catrin Vincent’s voice is the heart of this album. It’s already been widely noted for its startling androgyny but her ability to shift from wavering, dulcet tones to emphatic volume is bared here in a way that is clearly more willful, commanding an ebb and flow of sweeping moods. ‘Fell in Love With the City’ is the record’s first big moment of several, a sleek pop track that romanticises the act of moving to better places; Catrin’s airy vocal teases out the song’s fierce optimism, before immediately morphing into something more potent on ‘Brave Face’, a rousing ode to a friend in a toxic relationship.
The record swings between intimate moments and big, ruminative social commentary; ‘Riverbed’, about escaping the teenage wasteland of Conservative middle England, churns like the darker side of alt-J, whereas ‘The Cracks’ celebrates the Thunbergs, young fighters driving social change for the better, and ‘Avalanche’, an early single, goes in hard on the shit show of 2016 both sides of the Atlantic. Sonically the latter is nothing short of exceptional; it builds like a storm before crashing down in a deluge of caterwauling guitars that’s all ‘In Rainbows’, and a repeated mantra that’s as apt as ever: “When you hold them to account, they’ll spit you out, just a bad taste in their mouths”.
The real pinnacle on ‘I Slept On the Floor’ is ‘Tree’, a beautiful and intelligent cry against gender inequality that reads like an Atwood poem and sounds like London Grammar. All the noise is stripped away until Vincent’s voice is left alone with Jack Gilbert’s soft guitar accompaniment, then in the last minute rushes back in a defiant barrage that seems to say ‘time’s up’.
As debuts go, ‘I Slept On the Floor’ is about all you could ask for, the only exception being the absence of 2018 song ‘Chillers’, easily one of their best. In defiance of the doom and gloom that comes with the territory, this promising new foursome are moving forth with optimism as they hold a mirror up to a damaged world. That’s something we should all get behind.