For those of you who weren’t cool enough to be in the Young Ornithologists Club (YOC for short), Shearwaters are medium-sized long-winged seabirds with over thirty species; and for those of you not familiar with tectonic geography, an archipelago is a chain or cluster of islands.

Together they create a sense of something remote, wild and pristine – a separate, ideal landscape, which remains undisturbed and undiscovered by the outside world. In this same manner Shearwater shape their sound.

Their seemingly simple but subtly intricate folk rock soundscape comes straight out of The Strawbssongbook. It is both biblical and beautiful, and with only guitars, piano and glockenspiel the instrumentation levitates to levels of near perfection. Jonathan Meiberg’s vocals accompany, and with his intermittently twee manner in the long tradition of British folk, it might be stinging for some. But his soft intensity augments and dramatises the otherwise retiring music, providing it with a much needed dark, doom-laden edge. The result is something blinding, both in the isolation of its stylings and in the level of accomplishment achieved with such an otherwise simple sound.

Like the Shearwater, The Golden Archipelago might remain out at sea, undiscovered and underappreciated. But unlike such a natural paradise, whose beauty need to remain isolated for its protection, I hope that this does not happen. It would be tragic if such a fine album were to remain disregarded.

Release Date 15/02/2010 (Matador)

Chris Gilliver

I started out writing for the Manchester Evening News as a freelance journalist back in 2008. The idea that I would be given free access to music and gigs seemed somehow miraculous to me, and I proceeded to take full advantage of the situation. When the M.E.N. decided to constrict its coverage to only the very biggest bands, Simon Poole approached me with a plan to make sure that all the very talented musicians of this world that pass through and/or live in Manchester would not go unnoticed. As the New Releases editor here at Silent Radio Towers, it remains my proud duty to cast a critical eye over the music and reviews that come my way in a manner that is both supportive and fair. Above all, I strive to write as entertainingly possible. Favourite musicians include the Pixies, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Mercury Rev, Os Mutantes, The Knife, Beach House etc etc. I'm a firm believer that all genres (except nu-metal) contain music of great quality...