An utterly blissful + hugely uplifting record
Karl Blakesley
15:43 7th September 2022

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Having formed less than a decade ago, Reading rockers The Amazons have wasted little time in becoming one of the UK’s premier guitar bands. From the raw energy of their colossal self-titled debut to their dark, murky exploration of heavy rock riffs on sophomore outing Future Dust, The Amazons have quickly proven that there are few (if any) rock'n'roll outfits currently operating at their level. With both their first two records also hitting the Top 10 in the UK Album Chart, the stakes are there for The Amazons to deliver big again with their third outing, the philosophically titled How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me (HWIKIHWFM)? Thankfully, they’ve knocked it out of the park.

Where their previous two albums were built out of studio jams, the COVID-pandemic altered the course usually taken by the quartet for finding their creative spark. This time around, the songs were born from frontman Matt Thomson’s odes to his long-distance girlfriend, written on his acoustic guitar for her during prolonged absences from one another over lockdown. These rough demos were then built up by the band in separate studios, steadily pieced together until they eventually became the stirring 11 tracks found on HWIKIHWFM.

The result is an album that is so incredibly joyous you can’t help but beam from ear-to-ear whilst listening to it. A complete contrast to the darkness of previous album Future Dust, on HWIKIHWFM the band discover brighter and more profound sonic territory. The loud heavy riffs mostly take a back seat this time around, replaced instead with a greater focus on the songcraft and some noticeable country/Americana influences. Fans of their previous work may be worried reading this, but have no fear: this is still distinctly The Amazons you know and love.

It all begins with recent single 'How Will I Know', the oldest track on the record but also the album’s spiritual title track and musical compass. It makes for the perfect starting point, built around an immediate singalong chorus and big, expansive sound. It channels the feelings we all had over lockdown of longing for the community of gigs, festivals and general togetherness, leading nicely into storming lead single 'Bloodrush'. Written immediately after Thomson returned from seeing his partner for the first time in months, it is not only hugely anthemic but also features one of Thomson’s most earnest and affecting vocal performances.

Co-written by American singer-songwriter and friend of the band Maggie Rogers, 'Say It Again' is a composition about hearing someone say they love you for the first time and structurally one of the band’s most accomplished tracks to date. Although the lyrics are moving, it is the sonic splendour that compels here thanks to a dazzling guitar solo and a bold, heartening outro.

After a solid start the album doesn’t let up, with most recent single 'There’s A Light' chiming in with gentle, plucky guitars and a rumbling bassline. It’s a wonderfully heartfelt song full of optimism, with producer Jim Abbiss’ influence coming through strong around the three-minute mark thanks to a glorious refrain of “I can’t let this feeling go” in a style reminiscent to that of Bombay Bicycle Club. It soon floats off as quickly as it arrived, replaced by a simply jaw-dropping solo from lead guitarist Chris Alderton.

'Northern Star' is another one of the album’s shining moments: a beautifully sincere love song at the core of an elegantly simplistic arrangement. As some cool, bluesy guitar slides add some gloss in the background, it’s impossible to not get completely swept away by the song’s sentiment. Carrying a rare lyrical power to connect with people, this one has all the potential to be the biggest song in the world if released as a single.

Despite the stronger focus on the songwriting, The Amazons haven’t completely abandoned their rifftastic ways and fans of old will no doubt enjoy the record’s middle section. 'Wait For Me' is made for festival main stages, a shout-from-the-mountains love song propelled by a rousing central guitar riff. 'One By One' is the closest sonically to the dark, eerie mood of Future Dust, as Thomson ominously croons over an acoustic guitar before the band join in for some blistering heavy rock during the song’s final minute. It leads perfectly into 'Ready For Something', which features the meatiest riffs on the whole album to help complement the growing insanity being painted within the lyrics.

'For The Night' then changes the pace back up again: an atmospheric, stripped-back piano ballad, it's a song where Thomson’s voice is the star of the show. After 'In The Morning' charges things up amidst more choral calls and life-giving riffs, 'I’m Not Ready' delivers the triumphant finale this rich tapestry of light deserves, as Thomson closes with a poignant message of “life is cruel, but not right now.”

Overall, this is an utterly blissful and hugely uplifting record that will leave you resplendent with a full heart and a reinvigorated lust for life. The anthems are still here for current fans, but The Amazons also tap into deeper, more impactful lyricism to sound better and more widely appealing than ever before. How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me? Well, I think it just has.

How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me? arrives 9 September via Fiction Records.

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Photo: Press