The Equatorial Group – Apricity
I wasn’t familiar with the word ‘Apricity’ so I looked it up. It’s an archaic term that didn’t quite manage to make its way in to into the mainstream English tongue. But, according to Merriam Webster’s list of ‘Rare and Wonderful Wintertime Words’, it means the warmth of the sun in winter. That’s when it began to make sense. These songs are all about light and warmth or rather the lack thereof. Themes of disillusionment, disappointment, aching emptiness, relationships that have failed entirely or cooled into obscurity, lacking in spontaneity or joy are explored, blended with the positive aspiration that things will warm up again in spring.
From the opening track ‘Lights Shine’ and the first line “I live with a stack of memories”, we are hurled into a need to escape the humdrum reality and get into town, where the lights shine, to go drinking and forget the banality of small-town life.
Continuing that theme of frustration, disillusionment, and disappointment is the wonderfully titled ‘Juggernauts’. It puts a gloss on it, suggesting everything is just fine when it clearly is not. Instead of passing each other like ships, they are juggernauts hurtling into the distance, avoiding collision.
This is a collection of ten tunes that are memorable and engaging. They have confirmed ear-worm credibility. ‘Apricity’ is definitely a grower. It took me a while to warm to this album but as it became increasingly familiar, and its subtle complexities unfurled, I realised there was much to contribute. Memorable choruses, powerful and evocative guitar solos, gentle harmonies bring many stunningly beautiful moments.
The Equatorial Group is hard to pin down. Described as “ram-shackle folk-rock”, space country, languid Americana, all these descriptions somehow hit the mark. Their sound is indeed quite unique. They have been compared to Fleetwood Mac, the Magnolia Electric Company and Emmylou Harris. It heavily features pedal steel, heartfelt harmonies and dreamy four-part harmonies yet there is a sense of integrity; honest and sincere.
These are five good friends from the sleepy seaside town of Eastbourne in East Sussex who through serendipitous means have found and formed a genuine connection. They hail from a mix of musical backgrounds and pedigree. This unusual name, The Equatorial Group, also sparked my interest. While being as close as possible to the sun and its warmth matters, here it actually refers to a group of “astronomical buildings” in their locality.
Helen Weeks’ vocals are quite exquisite. She also features throughout on steel pedal and acoustic guitar. She is the main songwriter and singer along with Dave Davies. This is a five piece that pulls together and clearly works.
A feature throughout is the stand out choruses that embellish and strengthen each song, in particular, ‘Surrogate Funeral’. Upbeat and uptempo tunes often contradict and contrast with the lyrical content – excellent lyrics, rich in imagery, metaphor, symbolism. The intricate guitar solos are a special feature.
Apricity requires careful listening – how it sounds on the surface often betrays the depth of emotion therein.