During an interview in Six.By Seven’s late-90s heyday, Chris Olley suggested his band were as important as his life. Since splitting in 2008, tentatively re-forming in 2011 and fully returning here with ex-Placebo drummer Steve Hewitt, Six.By Seven have become just part of a brimming Olley portfolio that also includes photography and a thriving trade in fuzz boxes, the band’s early promise and intriguing English melancholy now a cult concern.
Though Olley’s defining influence was Neil Young’s On The Beach and he has always resisted the ‘shoegaze’ tag, almost every song here betrays his band’s 90s origins. Songs develop through intensifying dynamics, not melody, as during the near-nine-minute Truce, time enough for two climaxes of tom-toms, distorted wah-wah and electric sparks of guitar. James Flower’s Hammond inevitably recalls The Charlatans of Sproston Green.
A recent romantic catastrophe is obsessed over in Olley’s lyrics, but optimistic surges of guitar as he repeats ‘No, I won’t ever give up’ throughout the closing three minutes of Colder are more characteristic of the resilient, if doomily anthemic, mood. Although they’re stuck in the lower leagues, Six.By Seven are fighting relegation.