Sweet Billy Pilgrim: Motorcade Amnesiacs

Overdue return of home counties quartet.

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SBP looked set for a commercial breakthrough after 2012’s Crown And Treaty, a minor masterpiece of fine-tuned art-rock with ambient interludes and great tufts of prog. It never quite happened though, to the extent that creative hub Tim Elsenburg even considered quitting altogether, weighed down by disappointment.

Thankfully, he elected to press on, switching labels to Kscope, home to kindred spirit Steven Wilson, and pouring himself into a new bunch of songs. The result is Motorcade Amnesiacs, which attempts to dispel any lingering cynicism and instead celebrate the restorative power of music itself.

Central to the album, and something of a departure, is the bold use of Elsenburg’s guitar. It’s at its most angular on Candle Book And Bell and FFwd To The Freeze Frame, songs that feel like an itchy match-up of Wire and Field Music. Though the record’s real strength is the deft vocal interplay between Elsenburg and Jana Carpenter, who imbues things with a new sense of depth and, on Chasing Horses and the achingly lovely Tyrekickers, a nuanced sensitivity.

It’s fitting, too, that they close things with the epic Coloma Blues, whose banks of overdubbed harmonies approximate the stoical uplift of a gospel choir./o:p

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.