WE ARE AERIALS – Album Review: “Every Architect of Ruin”

We Are Aerials are a rather enigmatic indie rock collective from Donegal, Ireland who, like a few other artists and bands I’ve written about, choose to remain fairly anonymous. Fronted by a man identified simply as ‘Me’ on their Bandcamp page (though I know him as ‘C’ through his Twitter messages to me), who sings lead vocals and plays electric and acoustic guitars, keys, programming, and chime bars, We Are Aerials also includes Paul Casey on bass, electric and acoustic guitars, ukulele, keys, and programming, and Liam Bradley on drums and percussion. Lauren Doherty sings additional vocals and John McCullough plays piano and keys on selected tracks. C told me they do not perform live or post photos of themselves anywhere, as they “love making music and found a while back that the self-publicity side of things was killing that passion for it. There are a lot of artists posting pictures of their haircuts; it’s not for us.” Also, the only social media platforms they use are Twitter and YouTube. and they do not use music streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music because they’re a terrible deal for artists.

From what I saw on their Bandcamp page, they’ve been releasing music for nearly three years, beginning in October 2020 with their debut album Maps, which features a beautiful cover of Bruce Springsteen’s haunting masterpiece “Streets of Philadelphia”. They followed in March 2022 with their second album Silences and on May 5, dropped their latest album Every Architect of Ruin. Featuring ten outstanding tracks, the album was written by C, recorded by C and Paul Casey, and also mixed and mastered by Paul. The artwork featuring two hands that was used for the album cover was drawn by Rebecca Foster.

The album had somewhat serendipitous origins resulting from the discovery of an old battered guitar in the attic of a house C had recently purchased. After commenting to friends that he’d never been up to his attic, joking it was probably haunted, they goaded him for months to go up there and check it out. Finally relenting, he entered his attic one night and discovered a beat-up Mexican-made Fender Telecaster electric guitar in a worn-out acoustic guitar soft case. He recalls “I became obsessed with reviving the thing and brought it to a luthier. Got a new pick up and replaced the switch. Did his best with the neck but it still wasn’t right. Brought it to another luthier and he fixed it up good. It’s not the best guitar in the world; not well made, not well looked after, but once the luthiers were done with it, it sang. Some instruments just have a feel to them. Tim Henson of Polyphia calls it mojo. I don’t know if it’s a sentimental thing, or because I spent time and money on it, but this guitar has mojo. It started giving me songs almost the moment it was fixed. First ‘Echo’, then ‘Theft’, then ‘Empire’. Six months later, we have a new album. Attics are weird. And magic. And sometimes haunted.”

Though many of the songs on Every Architect of Ruin touch on darker themes like depression, duplicitous political leaders who prey on us, and the negative aspects of social media, the album is sonically arresting and beautiful. It opens with “Echo“, a gorgeous six and a half minute-long fantasia of reverb-drenched chiming guitars and thumping drumbeats. C’s soft, ethereal vocals, which register in the higher octaves, are enchanting as he croons “You know all I hear, oh… You know all I hear is echo, echo, echo.” At 2:45, the music expands with more dramatic guitars, then abruptly slows at the four-minute mark to a languid tempo, with fuzzy riffs accompanied by a spoken-word monologue by Yasmin that was recorded for an art project called “London is Lonely”.

Next up is “Theft“, a compelling rock song calling out people and forces who take from us until we’re bled dry: “Greed and brazen theft until there’s nothing left. Leave us all bereft, forever in your debt. Repelled, I cannot express myself.” Fueled by a galloping bassline, the song features shimmery psychedelic guitars, sweeping synths and crackling percussion. On the lovely piano-driven “Christopher“, C reaches out to a friend who’s going through a difficult time emotionally: “Hey Chris, reach out. Alleviate the doubt. The amber warning sounds for you, and I know something’s wrong here.”

Tuar na hAimsire” is a sweet and gentle song about just wanting to be with a loved one while a storm rages outside, with lyrics sung both in English and Gaelic: “A rumble of thunder, a flashing of light I watch from my bedroom. Tá an aimsir go yikes. Tá sé an-scamallach. Is dorcha an spéir. Ach níl eagla orm. I am not scared. Not a night to go outside. I’ll stay inside with you.” “Song With No Name” seems to speak of society’s struggle to make sense of the plethora of conflicting information and ‘facts’ found on TV and the internet: “The machine, a ruse to get you seen. Oh, balanced views, is nothing particularly true? Oh, what a time, devoid of reason and of rhyme.” The song has a bit of a late 60s/early 70s pop vibe, with gnarly psychedelic guitars and pleasing piano keys set to a sunny melody.

Everyone’s Unique Except You” is about not fitting in with the crowd and feeling insecure and inferior about yourself, when the truth is, you don’t really want to be like them anyway: “You’re not good enough to join that club. (You’re not enough) You’re not good enough to win their love love love love. (You’re not real enough) You’re not good enough to join their club.” Musically, the song is a pleasing blend of dream pop and folk, with a beautiful mix of acoustic and reverb-soaked jangly guitars.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Geese Teeth“, an enchanting piano ballad about an unpleasant encounter with a gaggle of aggressive geese. The lyrics are wonderful, so I’ll quote a fair amount of them: “Out to the wetlands to see the geese. Found a gaggle in the marshes. Edged closer for a better view./ A sudden honk I look up to see an angry bird. It stares. I give it a curious glance. And the thing puffs out its chest and spreads its wings, making itself big in attempt to warn me off. But as if I’d be intimidated by a stupid goose. I’m bigger than him. I glare back, puff out my chest and spread my arms out in imitation of his own gesture. And he charges me. I hadn’t banked on that. Next thing I know I’m being chased, by a whole load of waterbirds. Pecking and biting me with their geese teeth as I retreat, feet slipping everywhere on their filth. I reach the car, get in. I beep the horn. The geese scatter in a cloud of feathers.” The instrumentation on this song is really stunning, especially the piano, strings, guitar and what I’m guessing are chime bars played by C, and I love his spoken vocals where his Irish brogue really shines through.

Empire” continues on the theme introduced by the earlier track “Theft”, calling out duplicitous political and business leaders whose greed and avarice cause great harm to their citizens and countries. The lyrics include the album’s title: “Got a hand in every pocket and a knife for every throat. (You think we don’t see through you) Every architect of ruin with excuses and their scapegoats. I can see that our time has long expired. Failed in your fallen empire.” The song is a dream rock gem, as is the following track “Tides“, with its bouncy melody and more of those stunning reverby guitars. The lyrics seem to be addressing someone who’s toxic behavior and actions have left damage in their wake: “This is your glass house. These are the shards. This is your poisoned heart. These are your scars. Here are your ocean’s tumbling waves.”

Another favorite of mine is the final track “Ghostlight, a darkly beautiful song with breathtaking cinematic orchestration and gorgeous guitar work. I have no idea what the song’s about, but I love how it sounds. The fascinating video for the song was filmed and directed by Paul Casey, with footage of the mysterious woman applying her garish make-up by Pam Ede.

Folks, Every Architect of Ruin is an exquisite album filled with beautiful, meticulously-crafted songs that make for a pleasurable listening experience. I can safely state that We Are Aerials’ music most definitely speaks for itself.

Connect with We Are Aerials on Twitter

Find their music on Bandcampminm / SoundcloudYouTube

12 thoughts on “WE ARE AERIALS – Album Review: “Every Architect of Ruin”

  1. Marc Schuster

    I love the story of finding the guitar in the attic and then working to “revive” it — especially the fact that even after all that work, it’s still “not the best guitar in the world.” More and more, I think it’s flaws and imperfections that make art and the artifacts of life interesting. Signs of a life well-lived. Thanks for bringing We Are Aerials to my attention, Jeff!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good stuff, Jeff. Based on my initial impression, I really like how We Are Aerials sound. Their decision to stay off streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music is courageous, especially for a young band who presumably is still building listener audience, but at the same time, I guess their stance is understandable, given the tough terms these platforms offer artists. Still, I wonder how much it limits their visibility.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, it’s a real catch-22. On the one hand, being on all the platforms does potentially give artists & bands greater visibility, but the monetary rewards are insultingly low unless they get hundreds of thousands or millions of streams.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I guess it’s a lousy deal. I’ve said this before, making music your living nowadays is truly courageous, especially when you’re starting out. Of course, The Beatles didn’t exactly become famous overnight either. But least during those days, records still sold, so while it never was a slam dunk, at least, there was a possibility that if people liked your music, you could live from it. Today, this nearly seems to be impossible!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. The music industry has certainly changed over the years, but one thing has remained constant: the changes have always been about those making the music getting screwed! Just watched the 2008 documentary last night about the LA group of session musicians known as “The Wrecking Crew,” who basically created the soundtrack of my youth, but never got the recognition for it. Just another example of “meritocracy” at work…that the “best” will always make it to the top, the only problem is that the path to the top is rigged!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You have a gift for finding some of the most gorgeous music and writing the most delicate yet impactful prose as accompaniment. I couldn’t agree more with C. As an artist, you must stop sharing your music with streaming services until they decide to pay you properly. (Presumably, this is how they are making money without touring.) I know it’s stabbing me, as I love having the ability to listen to nearly anything I want at any time, but it is stupid how poorly paid musicians are today. At a minimum, every artist should refuse to share on streaming for at least three full months post-release of new material and allow their true fans an opportunity to buy their art on Bandcamp. Streaming services are criminal in their complicity to screw our artists and I would gladly pay 3x what they’re charging me if they told me the additional 2x would go directly to the artists. I’ve only begun to listen to this album, and am already enthralled with it. I won’t bother describing what you have already done so well. Thank you for sharing yet another gift, easily one of the most haunting albums I’ve heard in many a long lonely mile.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind words Rann. Truth be told, many of the artists & bands I write about reach out to me for a review. That said, I’m conflicted about music streaming thing, because as you state, it’s wonderful being able to listen to nearly any song among the millions that have been released. But I agree that it’s criminal how little artists are paid. Face it, most large corporations are only interested in profits and stock prices, not their employees, users and customers.

      I wish all indie acts would offer their music on Bandcamp, and it’s always a surprise to me when they don’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Back in the day I used to spend sooo much buying CDs… Having access to the world’s catalog now is like heaven on earth. Truly, unless they’re a stratospheric band, their dependence on income is strictly dominated by merch and touring. Like you, I’m happy they have Bandcamp, which is a godsend until (and if) something changes in the future.

        Liked by 1 person

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