The Vyrll Society

Course Of The Satellite

The industry cliché that excellent albums take a long time to perfect is something certainly understood by The Vryll Society. The Liverpool based psych-rock five-piece first announced themselves in 2015 with debut single ‘Deep Blue Skies’, a hypnotic statement of psychedelic intent, anchored by soaring guitar lines and frontman Michael Ellis’ dreamy vocal delivery.

Taken under the wing of the much-missed Alan Willis, credited with working alongside such Merseyside indie pillars as The Coral and The Zutons, the band solidified their potential with a smattering of singles and an EP in the two years up to 2017. There was always a worry, however, that such promise would struggle to translate onto a full-length record. Overall though, it was unwise to doubt.

The title track sets the tone perfectly, combining cinematic chords with a prominent tumbling drum pattern from Benjamin Robertson and Ellis’ now trademark vocals. The last two minutes of the track introduces a soaring guitar line, before cleverly collapsing back in on itself to leave a simple piano and drum loop sequence. It is this delicate balance of grandiosity and restraint that sits as a constant theme throughout, a sonic tug of war that commands undivided attention.

Several of the tracks here were made available before the release of the record, but while ‘A Perfect Rhythm’ seems slightly underwhelming in a broader context, ‘Andrei Rublev’ is an unquestionable highlight. Taking its name from the 1960s arthouse film, it contains the most effective guitar work on the record, bursting prominently through the mix to mould the track into a shimmering psych gem. Strangely, Course Of The Satellite nearly loses its path midway through, with ‘Tears We Cry’ possessing some of the more questionable lyrical choices across the 11 tracks, whilst ‘When The Air Is Hot’, despite its excellent twitching bassline, fails to really make its mark.

Things quickly brighten up though: ‘Shadow Of A Wave’ is the band at their poppiest, before personal highlight ‘Inner Life’ embraces a pulsating synth bassline and layers it alongside disco-flecked guitar stabs. The spiralling guitars take on a more noodling and assured quality here, a mutual recognition of the record’s climax. Although it might not reinvent the wheel, Course Of The Satellite marks The Vryll Society out as one of the most exciting and technically precise bands on the scene.

Alastair Bailey