Album review: In the Afterlife – Act Tragic

US duo Act Tragic return for their second album, an eleven song collection suffused with spectral gloom & an endearing lack of concern for wearing influences lightly.

While Ohio resident Eric Peraza’s vocals belong firmly to an American alt folk lineage (BrIght Eyes, being a particular touchstone) it’s the New Wave stylings of post punk 80’s Britain, that most strongly colour the set.

Words die with me finds Human League synths underpinned by oscillating, vintage Cure bass, and it’s Crawley’s finest who cast the longest & most beguiling shadow over In the afterlife; Broke the wrench ringing with Nathan Meyers low end melody and recalling the forlorn love songs of Robert Smith’s Disintegration era.

A lo-fi, DIY production adds authenticity to Peraza’s ruminations on the human condition but the trumpet fanfare ending to chamber folk number, Where the cold wind blows, provides the sort of filigree beloved by Mancunians Elbow & their legions of fans.

Titular opener In the afterlife slowly swells to Sea Power-like flights of majestic melancholy, but the standout track is Eternal Connection where the motorik propulsion of tinny, Casio drums suggests a lost Joy Division outtake reimagined in an Ohio bedroom studio.

Elsewhere though, half-formed ideas and bland melodies deaden the impact. Mid-tempo strum-along Confide in me goes nowhere and album closer Is this the Afterlife? is particularly poorly sequenced; its iPhone voice recorder intimacy not enough to lift it above mediocrity.

In the afterlife is not without promise, but Act Tragic need stronger songs and a more coherent distillation of ideas to stand out from the indie masses.





Author: Gareth, Stock Auditor

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