Sand: Sand

Captivating solo flight from the North Atlantic Oscillation frontman.

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Anyone familiar with NAO will know Sam Healy is no stranger to electronically minded, new-wave prog rock. The Scottish trio have acquired many admirers since their debut in 2010, combining hazy elements with alt- rocking axe-work, but with Sand Healy sought to create a ‘musical palate cleanser’ before the next NAO project.

Accordingly distortion, and electric guitars generally, are stripped right back; scintillating layers of keys, harmonies and samples are developed, and a contemplative yet dynamic tone is generated.

Oddly philosophical in its own way, Life Is Too Easy showcases an enveloping, jittering yet warm blend of keys, beats and escalating electronics. There’s a twinkly intimacy to the likes of Clay, the dreamy vocal harmonies of Ashtray will have you swooning. A Pill To Keep The Plane From Crashing is a highlight: its gripping opening shrinks to lo-fi notes then swells into an enigmatic blend of bleepy electronics and soaring post-rock.

Healy challenges the conventions of songcraft while simultaneously immersing you in familiar structures, lovely instrumentals and an enticing degree of weirdness. Cosy, atmospheric and ethereal, Sand is a space-rocking sonic delight.

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.