It's no coincidence that the release of Miracle Fortress' debut album happens to coincide with the belated start of the british summertime. Montreal based multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Graham Van Pelt must be a powerful man indeed to keep the sunshine at bay until he felt fit to offer this album to the world as one play of this idyllic piece of work will tell you where the nice whether has been for all this time. Listening to Five Roses is like lying on your back looking up at the sun, shimmering and dancing between the branches of a sheltering tree. As it blows gently in the breeze shards of light make their way through the foliage to intermittently soak you in their warmth. I include the tree in this analogy because this isn't just your sun bleached, airy-fairy pop record, it's much more varied than that. Van Pelt's vocals drift effortlessly on soaring thermals of delicate synths but also march triumphantly alongside pounding drums and joyous guitars.
Records of this type can often stay out too long in the sun and end up with no real focus to punctuate the breezy soundscapes. Opening track Whirrs puts that to right straight away with it's stomping rhythm and driving guitars. It's not the rising warmth of the rest of the record but it tells us unequivocally to feel free to plan the barbecue cos it's gonna be blue sky's from here on in. Debut single Have You Seen Her In Your Dreams is pure bliss with its soft melodies that will melt any heart and dispel any recollection of winter. Maybe Lately takes a slightly different path to your affection with it's Brian Wilson harmonies and jaunty baselines while Hold Your Secrets To Your Heart is a gently progressing but ultimately triumphant pop master stroke.
The album has a definite progressive structure as it steadily enlarges on this hopefulness throughout the forty three minutes. From the delicate droplets of warmth of the first half songs like Blasphemy with its midway gear shift slowly increase the downpour until the finale of This Thing About You provides us with the full panoramic view of the glorious ocean spread out before us. Granted, this song could evoke images of a T Mobile advert where a guy smugly struts around town on his phone without a care in the world purely cos he's got 400 free minutes, but stick with it and these appalling images will soon melt away. It's a triumphant end to a beautiful day.
Not since I discovered the highs of Loney, Dear's Sologne have I been this satisfied with a record. This is pure comfort without being easy listening. It's blissfully engaging and shimmers and shines as if soaked in light. Highly recommended.