What do you make of a band called Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes? When one of the members is ex-Pairs and Pale Head Xiao Zhong, you know to expect something brilliant - but the earnest excellence on show on standalone LP A Million Farewells is likely to throw most listeners. A shoegaze album that is filled with more melodic rhythm and direction than most pretenders can pin down; a breakup album and band that have predictably broken up, but unpredictably created songs that overflow with warmth and buoyant emotion. A flailing chaotic unleashing of feeling and tension into a nebulous sonic cloud, an unleashing of wild feeling and abandon. So you can start with the heart-stopping euphoric caterwaul of 'Come Back Home' put alongside the soaring countrified 'Bird Is Flying' that explodes into something else in the final third, and the creeping muted noise of 'Sam's Knife', without it feeling anything more than complete. In fact 'My Life Is Over' is 'Come Back Home' distilled into a two minute format - in case the set list is cut in half? Either way, it shows the fluidity that these guys hold. But the truly stunning thing about this band and this album is the beauty that hovers ever-present throughout. This is mostly due to the beautifully arresting vocals of CeeQ - when she unleashes, it catches your breath in your throat, your chest swells. Yep, the waves of emotion cascade down, and as Tom and Katie fade away, you won't be afraid to shed a tear too. To put it simply, A Million Farewells is a stunning gem that has risen out of nowhere, like the truest of stunning forces of nature, and just as quickly disappears - but should be witnessed by all. When describing this to my fiancee, she said 'so it's like the Northern Lights for you, then?' You know what? That'll do.*
*Yes, I may have shed a tear at the sight of the Northern Lights. Enhanced though I may have been, I stand by it.