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Music Review: A Northern Chorus – The Millions Too Many

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A Northern Chorus’s The Millions Too Many is a triumphant sonic cathedral of an album, full of soaring melodies and gorgeous instrumentation in the style of The Arcade Fire and Sufjan Stevens. It’s one of the most exciting, precise albums I’ve heard so far this year, and worthy of far more attention than it’s received.

The album hooked me right from the opening track, “Carpenter.” It starts with a hushed vocal then explodes with a flurry of horns and voices soaring. It’s a moment that draws you into the world of their music, and that enchantment continues on the more subdued “Skeleton Keys,” full of gorgeous whispered vocals.

What makes the album work for me isn’t so much the songcraft, I don’t remember specific lyrics or riffs, it’s more the enveloping atmosphere. The band prominently features horns and strings, and that gives them a unique sound. I just love the way they sound, a chamber pop feel that’s great to get lost in. On the title track, the vocals sound like a Death Cab song, but the soaring strings lying underneath help make it into something unique.

The instrumental section at the midpoint of “No Stations” is a particular highlight of the album, churning strings, and soaring horns pushing the song to ethereal heights. A guitar comes in near the end of the song, and the instruments sing together in a beautiful moment. That song is the highlight of the album.

“The Canadian Shield” is another gorgeous piece, particularly the instrumental build at the opening, which leads into a beautifully rendered guitar solo. The one downside of this track is that the vocals don’t match the beauty of the instrumental sections. The driving instrumental stuff on “Ethic of the Pioneer” is another great section.

So, this is a great album. The instrumentals are gorgeous, a wonderful world of sound to get lost in. It’s not as strong as The Arcade Fire’s Funeral, primarily because the melodies just aren’t as strong. But, it’s still a fantastic work and well worth your time.

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