When an album takes as long to be released as The Sound of Arrows' Voyage, there's more than a bit of trepidation on the part of the listener. Having waited with bated breath since we were all plunged into the technicolor world of fantasy within the 'Into the Clouds' video back in 2009, there's a lot of expectation riding on Oskar Gullstrand and Stefan Storm's debut. Fortunately, you won't be disappointed.
Today, when albums are often chopped up into individual tracks and separated as soon as they're downloaded, it's pleasantly surprising to come across one which you can instinctively listen from start to finish. Much like Madonna's Confessions on a Dance Floor or Flesh Tone by Kelis, Voyage is an enjoyably cohesive album that you won't want to stop listening to after just one track. While the songs released as singles - particularly 'Nova' and 'Into the Clouds' - are the most recognisable, the album's strength lies in its ability to subtly draw you in with other songs such as the gently epic 'Ruins of Rome'.
The Sound of Arrows themselves have pointed out to us that while; yes, they're a pair of blokes performing synth-pop, that's pretty much where the Pet Shop Boys similarities end. Having listened to the album about twenty times it's definitely true - Voyage is a completely different beast to anything Messrs Tennant and Lowe have released. Would you ever have them singing 'Seize a chance, follow a dream. Be yourself, don’t plan and scheme' like an endearingly dodgy self-help book from the Nineties? Possibly not.
Production is obviously crucial on this album, and it doesn't disappoint - to the extent that the last track 'Lost City' is a lush instrumental piece closing the work. In addition, if you purchase a physical copy of the album, as well as bagging possibly the year's most gorgeous artwork, you get your hands on a second disc with all of the songs in their pure instrumental form. Awesomeness incarnate.
The only criticism one can say about this year's Mother of electronic music albums is that its cohesiveness is its Achilles Heel; it could benefit from a few more individual stand-out tracks. But in an age where just one single can make or break an artist's career, to have an entire album that is a fully-fledged work of art can only be a good thing. Voyage takes you on a journey you won't want to come back from.