The new album from Modern Studies, Swell to Great, out tomorrow on Fire Records, is a collection of superb chamber pop numbers, for lack of an easier way to describe this kind of thing. The band -- Emily Scott, Rob St. John, Pete Harvey (ex-King Creosote), and Joe Smillie -- makes music that recalls that of Tindersticks and The Delgados in spots. I can think of no higher praise to offer this record.
Opener "Supercool" serves up supple indie-pop that's nearly mainstream in its appeal, but the more serious and elegiac "Black Street" is a far better example of what makes the music of Modern Studies so special. The folk-y "Bottle Green" segues nicely into an epic cover of "Bold Fisherman", the Shirley Collins number here stretched out in a languid, yet reverent manner. Elsewhere, the nearly-catchy "Divebombing" charmed me, as did the rather fine and mournful "The Sea Horizon", a contemplative number. The beautiful "Ten White Horses" sees this band again perched on the edge of something truly great here on Swell to Great. More refined than anything that the previously-mentioned Tindersticks ever put forth, the music of Modern Studies is special and magical in spots.
Swell to Great is out tomorrow on Fire Records.