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AQUALUNG announce the release of new album 'Magnetic North'

AQUALUNG announce the release of new album 'Magnetic North'

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Aqualung will return from the brink this summer, with the release of their sixth studio album, ‘Magnetic North’, on July 5th (Fruitcake Records). It will be preceded by a single, ‘Fingertip’, on June 21st.

Aqualung’s Matt Hales thought he had it all figured out. In 2007, the British singer/songwriter told a London audience that he was packing it all in. “I’d had enough of it at that point,” he recalls. “I thought I might just become a teacher instead.” And so he prepared to draw a line under an utterly unconventional musical career - beginning aged 17, when he composed his first symphony, and played keyboards for Mecano Pig (they were big in Winchester); and concluding with over half a million albums sold in America, where Aqualung continued to eclipse many British musical hopefuls (Michael Stipe, Leonardo DiCaprio and the cast of Lost could be spotted at his US shows, whilst Hales once spent a Razorlight gig fending off endless autograph hunters, seemingly uninterested in Johnny Borrell).

Yet on New Year’s Eve 2008, feeling chewed up and spat out by the industry, Hales and his family decided to move from England to sunny L.A. Despite swearing to quit, Hales began writing again. Having penned 3 songs with Leona Lewis, he was finally drawn back to Aqualung, creating material together with his usual collaborators (his wife - the actress Kim Oliver - and his brother Ben). Lyrically, ‘Magnetic North’ is in part inspired by such relationships. “They’re not all the same relationship, though some of it is autobiographical. The common factor in all of them is that, whether they last or not, there was a point when the other person was everything. And, with luck, will be again.” As such, many of the songs on ‘Magnetic North’ are sung to and with another voice: see Sara Bareilles on the stomping, soul-pop opener of ‘New Friend’; A Fine Frenzy’s Alison Sudol on ‘Time Moves Slow’, and Kelly Sweet on ‘Sundowning’.

Musically, ‘Magnetic North’ sidesteps the blissed-out electronics that ‘Strange and Beautiful’ made them famous for. “This is a back-from-the-brink kind of record, so there’s a sense that is should have a warmer exterior,” Hales explains. The evidence is in the likes of ‘Reel Me In’, driven, as it is, by a spiralling piano line, gentle orchestration, and a newfound sense of musical and emotional urgency. Hales’ exposure to the Californian sun also ripples through into the record: ‘Fingertip’ and ‘Hummingbird’, for instance, are the type of breezily cool alt-pop that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Wes Anderson soundtrack. Elsewhere, though, Matt Hales’ voice remains as fragile and heartbreaking as ever, particularly on the aching ‘Remember Us’; sure to make Aqualung’s legion of faithful followers do just that.

Despite his proclamation to quit touring, Hales will take to the road in support for the album. He will play a series of dates across America through April and May, announcing a range of European shows and festival appearances shortly.

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