Puressence 'Only Forever' - Stephanie Heney

Puressence must be one of the most underrated bands of the nineties. Together now for eight years, they have had charted once. With a single album under their belt, they have amassed a swelling underground, waiting for the big vindication. 'Only Forever' their new album looks set to awaken the masses to the brilliance of Puressence, and deserved media attention has led to playlisting of the first two singles. This new record, however is no departure from the wonderful debut, eponymous LP. For the uninitiated, it is important to mention that the vocalist, James Mudriczki has the most beautiful voice you will ever hear. Seriously. The only reasonable comparison which can be made is the sound of Geneva, but with about ten times the energy. James' warbling, vibrato, octave spanning, female sounding voice gives such emotional strength to the songs they take you over. James has a voice a girl could fall in love with. 'Only Forever' opens in much the same way 'Puressence' does, with perhaps the best track on the album, shrill vocals over tense harmonies, which break into a guitar crashing 'waves against a cliff' energy. James' singing is simultaneously melodic and harsh, 'Sharpen up the Knives' breaks into a loud and carefully nervous epic of a song. No reprieves and we are into the second track, the first single to be taken from the album: 'This Feeling'. This guitar strumming showpiece also ruptures into a heavier tune but is too much of hymn to really scare. This song is quite beautiful, despite being so melancholic: 'why do I think this way at such a tender age?' Beautifully timed, the guitar strums take us to the clouds and gently back down again, soaring and buoyant and gently back to rest. The unfortunate single 'It Doesn't Matter Any More' is nothing more than a record company's attempt at ingratiating the masses with this watered down version of the Puressence sound. Although never anything less than pleasant, this number is really just an album track overloaded with strings. 'Street Lights' really does prove that Puressence's talent lies in their energy, concerned with prison life, this song is euphoric, and James' shouting, energetic aria adds to the up feeling of this song. Done live, this tune could cause a riot. Also, 'Turn the Lights Out When I Die' has the same effect; (using the old trick of softly, softly - guitar noise) bizarre subject matter being overshadowed by the pure dynamism of the music. In the same vein side two's 'Never be the Same Again' is equal in energy, yet much sadder, as we are told of standing in the rain and other such clichés' which oddly work without sounding corny. Having a beautiful, melodic girl's voice means that we will not escape the ballad type tunes. Has to be done really, and it is done here rather well. The crashing indie guitars are still used, albeit slowed down, and with James' powerful voice over the top, Puressence are very good at creating multi-layered masterpieces. 'Standing in Your Shadow', 'All I Want', and 'Gazing Down' swoop and descend with such verve and elegance they make Embrace seem like lager louts. What Puressence may lack in lyric writing they more than make up for in creating emotional lanscapes with their sound. Using James' vocals and the careful restraint and excess of instrumentation they take us through streets to cliff tops; we are at once in a speeding car and crying in the rain with this album. With a sound that could fill a cathedral, the future really is unfair if it doesn't hold something majestic for Puressence.