Errors – Lease Of Life

This review originally ran on The Quietus 

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One of the striking things about Glasgow’s music scene – and the wider musical community in Scotland – is the camaraderie between bands. There’s room for a multitude of genres and styles, with artists respecting and endorsing each others’ work. A resurgence of electro/synthpop has been evident over the past few years, with the likes of Chvrches and Prides carving out the most commercially polished path, and more guitar focused groups increasingly dabbling with samples and sequencers. But it has been Errors that has consistently pushed the genre since the (now) trio’s debut album of 2008, doing it their unique way under the wing and with the full support of Rock Action label bosses Mogwai.

With Lease Of Life, the three-piece’s fourth LP, and their first release since 2012, the group continues alongside friends and colleagues of varying musical persuasions, but with a flavour distinctly its own. Errors have evolved to bend more to melody than in the past, while showing reverence to the electro pioneers of late 80s/early 90s Manchester, London and beyond. But this is also the sound of New Scotland, conceived and created on the sparsely populated, infertile lands of the Hebridean Isle of Jura (ironically famous as the place Orwell completed his dystopian classic Nineteen Eighty-Four).

There’s a freedom to this record – in the space it occupies and the conventions it flouts. Its strength and beauty lies in the openness of its interpretation, a choose your own adventure approach that never forces the listener down a set path. Errors remain intrinsically connected to a musical past, whilst fully immersed in the west coast of Scotland’s rich natural environs and history as well as the populated central belt cityscapes of the present.

From the celestial sunrise, distant pan pipes and emphatic beats of punchy opener ‘Colossal Estates’, to the Krautrock keys and building dance bombast of the title track, it’s difficult to predict where Errors will go from bar to bar. It can be pleasantly unsettling – you’re unsure whether to raise a wry smile at the heavy bass fuzz, cheesy synth cascades and bongo trills of ‘New Winged Fire’ (which wouldn’t be out of place on a B-grade 80s film soundtrack) or marvel at the soaring interstellar interludes that pepper the record, invoking the omnipresent, ever-changing light of a Scottish summer and the immense unexplored coastlines of the western isles.

Errors are dabbling with pushing vocals to the forefront, with Stephen Livingstone, and guest singers Bek Olivia and Cecilia Stamp, adding a further layer to some of the songs without overpowering them. ‘Dull Care’ is part Jean Michel Jarre, part Depeche Mode, with the addition of graceful vocal melodies reminiscent of Liz Fraser (similarly ‘Slow Rotor’ and ‘Putman Caraibe’). Album standout ‘Genuflection’ sees Livingstone’s vocals somewhat Mansun-esque, beneath driving New Order/Pet Shop Boys synth keys, beats and sax sounds.

There’s no doubt that the acquisition of Korg synths favoured by the likes of 808 State has coloured this record. Far from the machines forcing this album to sound harsh, distant and devoid of emotion, though, this collection of songs is full of heart. This is clear through the epic closing track, ‘Through The Knowledge Of Those Who Observe Us’, which chimes with deep choral tones undulating through lofty blips, late Genesis beats and 80s guitar licks.

Errors are wise to let humanising vocals in, yet the band remains separate from the new synthpop gang, happily exploring their own sounds without a grander plan. This is a record that reveals something new on each listen, a record that will secure Errors’ place in the pack – part of a greater fraternity but with a formula distinctly their own.

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