If there’s one thing which Coltrane Motion inspire, it is adjectivity. The Chicago duo’s press variously describes them as: Lo-Fi, Laptop-Folk, 60s Psyche and inevitably, Shoegaze (amongst various other descriptive terms) and whenever I hear of a band provoking its commentators into ever increasing reliance on their Thesauruses, I mark this as a sign of actual musical talent, perhaps even originality.
So I turned to the public domain to hear Coltrane Motion for the first time, and “How To Be” held my attention for all of its 2 or so minutes, a truly epic summery pop song that both referenced and celebrated classic mid 60s beach pop, replete with reverberating drums, three chord harmonies, farfisa keyboard riffola, and an actual song more than worthy of either Brian Wilson or Anton Newcombe. Coltrane Motion are, I decided, a proper new pop group, as inscrutably superior as Vampire Weekend and as mildly deranged as MGMT, bands with whom they share one or two common reference points.
Album opener “When We Were Old” begins in a squall of electronic feedback and morphs into fuzzed up second track ‘Maya Blue’ without as much as a blink. It’s apparent that Coltrane Motion’s antecedents do originate in the DreamPop world, developing as they do a sound as swirling and ethereal as anything in the Slowdive and Chapterhouse back catalogues and which make for a slight contrast with the jittering guitars of “I Forgot There Was A War On” and the verging on sambaesque rhythms of “Wherever This Is”, while the distorted grind of “Terra” has the duo (Michael Bond and Matt Dennewitz) venturing into deeper psycheout territories, and writing a minor masterpiece of Dronerock in the process. “High Tide” adds a more soulful vibe to its predecessor and its around here that I realised that the 10 songs on Hello Ambition function sequentially in terms of both style and arrangement. Sure, any cynic could wilfully demolish this album in a half dozen sneering put downs – ‘deriviative’, ‘indulgent’,’overproduced’, ‘underinspired’ and two or three other such negative phrases, but this would simply draw attention to both a profound lack of understanding of what popular music actually is and what bands such as Coltrane Motion are able to do with it, and Hello Ambition is, in its entirety, a skilfully structured and occasionally brilliant record that quite spectacularly manages to sound like the perfect summer soundtrack album, throughout all of its twists of style and instrumentation.
As I type this, afternoon shadows are lengthening across the town square which I can see from the window in front of me and it’s a warm, blue sky sort of day, with customers filling the cafe tables and an assortment of pedestrians, cyclists and even drivers taking things at that just slightly less frantic pace which dry weather brings out amongst the English and everyone, I am quite certain, is listening to their own variation on Hello Ambition, the kind of album that can equally inspire, soothe and precipitate who knows what events and occurrences in the lives of anyone who hears it. Coltrane Motion are, importantly, taking some already imaginative ideas more than one step forward and Hello Ambition contains more than one moment of startling invention, a lot more than one. Goodbye boredom.