REVIEW: Stateless – Matilda

Stateless, without any hesitation, boldly step up to the musical bar this year and raise it ten-fold with the delivery of their long awaited second album; Matilda, released on their new home of Ninja Tune Records, 21st February. Following a long break after their label jump from Berlin’s !K7 Records to Ninja Tune last year, rumours of their consequent releases have been met with much anticipation and online hype. Particularly following on from their single release of Ariel, which was released late 2010 and carries with it a real sense of evolution and a defined taster of what the album may impart.

Tracklisting:

01. Curtain Call
02. Ariel
03. Miles To Go
04. Visions
05. Assassinations
06. Red Ocean
07. I’m On Fire
08. Ballad Of NGB
09. Song For The Outsider
10. Junior
11. I Shall Not Complain

Stateless are a band close to my heart and the album for me delivers a very personal, emotional and dark soundscape that exceeds any expectations on the earlier demos and ideas I’ve heard in the infancy of this album’s formation. Hailing from the North Country, they have shape-shifted between forms and industry ideals, losing and gaining members along the way, but always with the same creative formula, musicality and imagination that stems from lead singer Chris James and his delivery both on stage and within his song writing.

Initially signed to Sony and then later to !K7 (where they released their debut album to critical acclaim), Ninja Tune feels like the right home to foster the talent of this highly underrated band from the bright Northern Lights of Yorkshire. Matilda holds dear all that is unique about Stateless and binds together the undisputed talent of the current line up; Chris James, Justin Percival, Kidkanevil and David Levin. The album was produced by Bjork’s right hand guru, Damian Taylor, and features the talent of the Balenscu Quartet (David Byrne, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Spritualised) as well as a hauntingly beautiful duet between Chris and My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden.

Matilda sees Stateless come of age with a defined delivery of love lost, elusive darkness and harboured beat shifting, all balanced and influenced by their apparent travels touring across Europe over the past few years. Chris James explains of the album; “The production is much more electronic on this album but the songwriting is quite different from the first album, too. It’s more based on surreal stories and characters, it’s much more cinematic. It really blurs the lines between fantasy and reality.”

mp3: Stateless – Ariel

The track Junior, featuring the beautiful vocals of Justin Percival, is a real show-stopper tinged with hints of the Deep South and buttered with strings, kissed by Chris James’ delivery. Ballad of NBG and Assassinations are similarly spell-binding, but Chris’ duet with Shara on I’m on Fire is the highlight of the album for me. Matilda flows between the darker shadows of Chris James’ classic song-writing and the natural balance between electronic production and programming, all sewn together by the signature skills of Kidkanevil. A great start to the year for what are one of the most exciting bands to come out of the UK.