Arcane Roots - Melancholia Hymns album review

Alt-prog Londoners Arcane Roots spread their creative wings

Arcane Roots - Melancholia Hymns album artwork

The way Arcane Roots begin their second full‑length album is telling, as they eschew an explosive ‘here we are again’ approach in favour of a slow-burning ambient squall that has more to do with My Bloody Valentine than Muse. When the song eventually bursts into melodic life, it reveals a band that have plainly grown in confidence. The Londoners’ uncanny ability to straddle prog, alternative rock and tech metal remains intact throughout Melancholia Hymns, but this is a deeper and more measured record than its predecessor, full of elegant dynamic shifts, atmospheric charm and tunes that are as insidious as they are off-kilter. Recent singles Matter and Curtains are both belters: full of urgency and glowering portent, their refined sense of drama and an underlying rush of hazy distortion adding a delicate sense of the other‑worldly to what could have been more straightforward indie rock tunes. The finest moments – the beautiful Indigo, the grandeur of Solemn – are stunning and point to a fascinating future. Clearly thrilled by their own creative freedom, Arcane Roots are dispensing with any easy categories here, while making music that could easily make them superstars. Clever sods.