After years of speculation, crowdfunding, random gigs in Dublin and snippets from songs, the ever elusive Codes have finally managed to release their sophomore record, ‘Aaltars’. ‘Aaltars’ has undergone a lengthy gestation period, but the birthing of the album from the Dublin/London quartet has always been followed closely by fans, many of whom provided the funds to assure it was recorded. It’s been five whole years since their debut record, ‘Trees Dream in Algebra’ so the question on everyone’s mind is simple – was it worth the wait?
From the opening notes of Outposts, there’s something markedly different. It’s distinctly Codes, but more grown up, more mysterious and brooding, like ‘Trees Dream in Algebra’s angsty older brother. The song builds around layered guitars, synths and the vocal line of “did you feel it disappear on your horizon?” until the rhythm section kicks in and you know it means business. As an opening track, Outposts, the last 30 seconds of which is explosively good, is a truly memorable track.
Codes themselves have spoken about how they had different plans for their second album, and this is evident from the beginning. The jangly indie-ness is gone and is replaced by a more aggressive, math-rocky style. It suits them, combining the original sound of Codes with something more bold and daring.
The stuttered start of And Arrows And Aarrows kicks into one of the most radio-friendly tracks of the album, while still showing off the changes they’ve implemented through bold, synthesized beats, frantic drums and carefully interwoven vocals. Astraea, the lead single, and one of the stand out tracks of the album, shows off the range of Daragh Anderson’s vocals excellently. At the two-minute mark, Astraea builds through a vocal hook, a jangly guitar riff and a pounding drum beat before synths slink into the mix and add another layer of intricacies to the song.
Triangulum, which was the first song from ‘Aaltars’ to make its way online through a studio video, is just as impressive in a fully-recorded album version. The vocal hook of “even when the light goes out you know// I’ll be there beside you when you go” wedges itself into your brain in the best kind of way. The line features throughout and goes from being a simple sentence to a persuasive message by the climax of the five minute track.
Meridian Square possesses some post rocky tendencies and again shows off the incredible lyrics found throughout the album. It may just be the way Anderson delivers them, but certain lines pack a punch unlike any of Codes’ earlier work particularly the thought-provoking line; “we are the universe and we are screaming.”
What Codes have delivered here is their most accomplished work yet, featuring some of the most powerful tracks in their arsenal. The new style is welcomed with open arms as it pounds its way into the listener’s head and starts to feel a little bit like home. ‘Trees Dream in Algebra’ was nominated for a Choice Prize. Could its big brother repeat this accolade and perhaps push it a step further? Who’s to know? One thing is certain; ‘Aaltars’ is the album fans were anxiously awaiting and it’s one that might make them a few more.