Sunny pop music comes in many guises: Belle and Sebastian’s AM-radio inflections or the Beach Boys’ surf and sand intonations, for example. Frenetic, mostly-instrumental prog-pop may not come to mind, but that’s where Northern Ireland’s quartet, And So I Watch You from Afar, comes in.
On the band’s third release, the 12-track, 43-minute All Hail Bright Futures, there is optimism and joie de vivre that pummels through every song. Beats and hyperkinetic riffs blow by like a mini-tempest. Tunes like first single “Like a Mouse” are aggressive without being destructive. Digital chirps and marimba-aroused percussion rise up (“The Stay Golden”); strings and horns woozily whoosh in and out (orchestral pop piece “Trails”); and intricate a cappela harmonies flourish (the cheerful, ultra-infectious “Ka Ba Bo Da Ka”). This is music to lighten up the world - there is no concealed intention to do much else. When the lads joyously chant, “The sun, the sun, the sun…is in our eyes!” during the rumbling “Big Thinks Do Remarkable,” you just know things are going to be a bit brighter.