Yr Eira : Toddi07.07.2017: I Ka Ching
Play it at the right volume and the impact of hearing the start of this album the first time is like a riot squad hammering on your door when you are half asleep. This is because of the sheer, startling kinetic energy of the first track - coming from a band who had only hinted in the past that they might be able to deliver something of this potency.
The album's producer, Steffan Pringle, has brought an emphatic, high impact sound out of Houdini Dax, Adwaith and Estrons in the past. He has now worked with Yr Eira to craft a set of songs that, whilst varied in their style, have a consistent, impressive musical depth and clarity. The collaboration has evidently produced an enduring change, it appears that the same transformation has been seen live too.
The first four songs demand your attention.
Gadael am yr Haf (Leaving for the Summer) is the opener. On the album it has exactly a minute of tension cranking intro before everything detonates into a bass heavy squall of guitar and tightly channelled musical energy.
Gadael am yr Haf is followed by Diflannu, which is drummed into a groove by a propulsive beat, before it is revealed as a more complex, experimental track. By Dros y Bont, a recent single, it is hard to deny something significant is going on - the momentum does not stall for its three and a half minutes of dynamic indie pop.
Which leaves Rings Around your Eyes to close the opening quartet - a mellow, reflective song that punctuates and pauses the effervescence that has gone before.
The middle section of the album is very good - Gweld Y Gwir, the surfable guitar of Pan Na Fyddai'n Llon, Ffiniau Anweledig (which is a dramatic, slow rock elegy), a second English language song Feeling Fine (where the experimentation edges near the ghost of a progressive work out), all have definite merit - but sometime Newsnight lead out theme tune Suddo has an animation all of its own, as it wheels and soars, that marks it as a fifth standout.
The album closes with title track Toddi (English : Melting) - which is rawer (in the sense of less produced) than much of the album, but is a suitable close, and just as with the rest you can almost hear the track straining to be played on a stage.
It is hard to shoehorn this entire album into a genre - there is pop and indie in the mix - most of all, guitars turned up, bass and drums animated and loud, it often has a definite rock undercurrent propelling it. There is an unforced magic to Toddi which suggests Yr Eira have arrived at a point of significance - as a conscious echo of what has been said elsewhere what they do next will matter; build on this and they are headed somewhere vital.
At the time of its release Yr Eira's frontman Lewys Wyn said, ?The whole album discusses some kind of change or transition. The butterfly cover artwork symbolises this. It could be the transition between different parts of your life, changes in the way we think, or maybe a change in personality. We?ve tried to capture this theme in all our songs.?
As much as this is all true, Toddi leaves you in no doubt that it is the group themselves that have worked through a transition, and been transformed by the process.