By stripping their electronic instruments back to an analogue-sounding skeleton, Civil Civic have allowed the melodic strengths of their guitars to take centre stage.
Instrumental albums either cast aside traditional song format and head into more obtuse territory or they let their musical ideas and playing construct the hooks that the vocals would normally provide. Aaron Cupples and Ben Green firmly chose the latter and as a result Rules is brimming with the types of catchy riffs and solos that lodge deep in your memory receptors. They also excel in a wide range of styles from Strokes-ish surf and sci-fi garage rock to M83 maximalist synth anthems. That may sound like a chaotic mess but it works because the duo anchor their songs in programmed drums that create a mechanistic cohesion to the album. Run Overdrive and Sky Delay are pure '90s fuzz and deliver college-rock guitar workouts while they also show a post-punk/goth-pop streak in songs like Lights On A Leash that sound like a Cure or New Order demo before descending into a subterranean fetish nightclub. Mayfield virtually dispenses with drums, creating a beautiful billowing guitar and bass composition that sounds positively angelic in light of the surrounding static and beats.
By stripping their electronic instruments back to an analogue-sounding skeleton, Civil Civic have allowed the melodic strengths of their guitars to take centre stage and the result is an impressive exercise in collaborative cohesion that doesn't sacrifice songcraft for style.