One of Englands finest experimental groups, The Cinematic Orchestra have returned this year with ‘To Believe’, their first studio album since 2007’s ‘Ma Fleur’. Spearheaded by producer Jason Swinscoe, this new record feels like a natural step from the last album and shows the band have in no way lost their footing during the 12-year gap.
Opening with the ethereal, beautiful but ever so-slightly paranoid acoustic guitar on the title track. Collaborator Moses Sumney vocals are completely captivating on the track. Lyrically, the song builds on themes of personal change and finding purpose, spiritually climaxing with the lines “I can be your someone you believe in” it’s a beautiful listen.
Strings swell in the latter of the track and give way to the transition to ‘A Caged Bird/Imitation of Life’. Led by Roots Manuva, the track places delicate piano lines behind a booming distorted bass drum, providing an angsty backdrop to Manuva’s vocals hybridised with the cinematic soundscapes that we expect from the group’s instrumentals.
The strongest moments in the album come from the punching ‘Lessons’. Luke Flowers marching drum beat sits uncomfortably with the introducing synth, but around that, the group create an absolutely beautiful song. ‘Zero One/This Fantasy’ also has an amazing vocal performance from frequent contributor Grey Reverend, who sings powerfully over a dark but jazzy electronic instrumental.
‘To Believe’ is an amazingly strong return for the band. The album expertly blends different genres together in a way that only the Cinematic Orchestra while also sounding completely fresh compared to previous releases. All we can hope is that it won’t be so long until we get another studio record.