Matthew and the Atlas [Single Review]


2010 was a fruitful year for folk-lovers with the release of Matthew and the Atlas’ first, and only two, EPs, ‘To The North’ (March 2010) and ‘Kingdom Of Your Own’ (November 2010). Since then, frontman and creative force Matthew Hegarty has become a musical enigma, isolating his live performances to a largely American audience, leaving the somewhat neglected British public with very few shows to wrap their eager ears around. This year however, all traces of frustration over this brilliant band have been cleansed with the release of their brand new single, ‘Everything That Dies’.

This single gives weight to the rumour of a debut album in 2013 and, moreover, stands testament to the fact that not an ounce of talent has left the band. In keeping with their distinctive style, the song starts off with a minimalistic throb of dulcet synth which is supported by the delicately gruff vocals of Hegarty. The lyrics themselves appear bleak, yet they are layered with a distinctive optimism. This can be seen as the song develops. What begins as a slow, visceral and building march is brought to a very peaceful halt at the first chorus where the lyrics are met by the beautiful ringing of piano. It’s here that The Atlas find a perfect harmony between bleak reality and joyous optimism as Hegarty rasps out the lyrics: “You said everyone you know, one day will surely die, but everything that dies someday returns…”.

At the second chime of these lyrics the march continues, twice as fearsome as music descends upon you once more. Rolling drums set the pace; deliberate and firm. This marks the rise towards the song’s thumping crescendo where all elements meet in one hopeful call out to the listener. The slow throbbing synth joins with the rolling drums, the measured piano and, of course, the magnificently hoarse lead vocals while a choral cry is heard beneath the music.

The march breaks out into full sprint before drifting slowly off with Hegarty’s assurance that “Everything that dies” does indeed “someday return”. Seldom have I been as excited about the release of a single as I am with this. Despite being another fantastic addition to Matthew and the Atlas’ already sterling portfolio, this new track makes me expectant of great things from the band’s debut album which has been 30 years in the making!

By Christian Field