UTR052 | LP / Digital | 13 tracks, 38 minutes | Buy
'Arrow Shower' is the title of Way Through's debut album, recorded in their practice space Deep House during a particularly heavy snowstorm in early winter 2011. The name of the album is taken from a set text of Philip Larkin's 'Whitsun Weddings' heavily annotated by a 14 year old schoolboy found in a junk shop in Much Wenlock, often described as England's most perfect village. Way Through find great resonance with the spirit of place and try and channel its feeling into their music. This sense of timeless England is contrasted with the awkward adolescent reading of these poems and this juxtaposition is key to this record.
Working with songs and more abstract forms with a punk sensibility, Way Through have embraced a certain "romanticism of loss" that follows notions of Englishness like a dog. It's easy to understand the appeal in yearning for a remembered England whilst missing the point directly in front of you. The spirit of a place to inspire and create from can be found now, outside your window; in the deserted shopping precinct, along the banks of the railway line, behind the quarry, in the outskirts, in the ordinary, as Way Through show in their song "Rural Fringe". Whether it's the "tattooed necks" and "faded suntans" of the East End in 'Sad Twin' or in the fatalism of a crumbling suburban life being decided for you, as in the track "Handsome Knave", Way Through try to connect the decay and the mundane with the exceptional.
"Ruined Acre" opens the album, placing themes from traditional English Pace Egg plays into sprawling feedback and thunderous drums, picking up forgotten pasts and applying their meanings to our modern world. "Gallant Show" emerges from reflective pools of backwards voices, slowed claps and atmospheric guitar into a strident defense of the everyday and overlooked, claiming the "unregarded landscape of garage doors", "featureless tarmac paths" and "confused clearings" as "another inward territory that keeps leaping up from the floor".
It's these demanding territories that Way Through are most drawn too, where the inward manifests itself onto public space. "W. B." is a brash anti-anthem, looking at the recent phenomenon of grieving for dead soldiers in the Wiltshire town, Wootton Bassett. "Salmon Patch" is a song about identity, about birthmarks and remembering where you grew up, transposed onto the English psyche. The centre of the song forgoes structure as unnatural and plunges the track into a soup of warped samples and field recordings from Whittlesey's annual Straw Bear procession.
Way Through join the dots between lost places and deteriorating histories. They don't have time to mourn the loss of England as it "marks yourself out and you can't wear black forever" according to closing song "Denton Welch", inspired by the tragic life of the author/artist of the same name. The past can help us to see where we need to go next. Way Through aren't trying to make a nostalgic, backwards-obsessed record here, they've returned to the history all around us everyday and they sing about "your pulse being full of the past", but it's a past still present if you look hard enough.