Poet Simon Armitage describes LYR’s documentary masterpiece of meticulously placed lyrics and exquisite sounds as “a record of an extraordinary period of social history” as he and bandmates, singer-songwriter Richard Walters and multi-instrumentalist and producer Patrick J Pearson release their latest track. A deeply-affecting record of human separation, during, before and after the earthquake of Covid, they reveal The Song Thrush and The Mountain Ash.
Drawing equally on nature as the events of the last three years, the latest song to be drawn from upcoming album, ‘The Ultraviolet Age;, finds Armitage’s words vividly evoking the confusion and loneliness felt on either side of a hospital window in a vivid replay of the pandemic experience. Seen by the band as a tribute to compassion as much as a potentially unsettling reprise and reckoning with unresolved trauma, the three-piece play to individual and communal strengths to devastating effect. Walters’ empathetic vocal and Pearson’s restrained instrumentation both resonating as a result of their own profound emotional responses to the song’s era-defining script.
Having played the song live, Walters reflects on the apparent impact on audiences, saying: “The first time we played this one live, an audience member came over to me, clearly very moved, and said this song in particular made her want to hold her children a little tighter. It does that for me. I think it speaks of loss and near-misses beyond just the lockdowns.”
The album – The Ultraviolet Age – is released on EMI North on Fri 30 June 2023 on multiple formats, including a special edition, signed vinyl format, The title refers directly to a new period of post-pandemic overexposure. Considering possibilities of the rush to bounce back occurring in place of more considered recovery, the intensity of handling the vagaries of politicians in the political soap opera, as expressed on the album’s first track release, Presidentially Yours, the inconvenient reminders of enduring environmental harm and rampant, internet-borne commercialism – these are just a few prevalent issues LYR explore as overlooked, everyday shocks for still vulnerable, anxiety-prone human populations.
Yet, for all talk of tumult and change, some things remain essentially the same, consistent elements of nature’s course, as Armitage adds: “The Song Thrush and The Mountain Ash is also a metaphor for any relationship which suffers because of a lack of communication. The Song Thrush is famous for its tuneful call, while the Mountain Ash or Rowan is one of our most common trees, almost shouting with bright red berries in winter. But bird and tree, no matter how melodious and colourful, have no common language, just as the characters in the song are failing to speak to each other through a closed window and the dense fog of memory loss.”
For Pearson, constructing the orchestral, occasionally glitching electronic and frequently, delicately crystalline musical worlds around his peers’ voices, the magic in the track occurred once Armitage and Walters’ voices had combined. He says: “When Richard sent his parts over, I think I just sat there frozen, there were probably a few tears as well. It seemed amazing that it came together so easily. I decorated it with a few textures, however it’s a piece that can stand up with just us around a piano. It’s very much a modern folk song.”
As the aftershocks of The Song Thrush and The Mountain Ash recede and the rest of The Ultraviolet Age’s ten tracks loom on the horizon this summer, LYR also look ahead to a nine-date UK Tour for September and October. LYR will visit major cities including Edinburgh, Bristol and London, as well as perform intimate shows in Sunderland, Margate and Stowmarket.
Crediting becoming a ‘proper band’ thanks to the blue touch paper moment of their first show at Leeds’ legendary Brudenell Social Club just two-weeks prior to the first national lockdown in March 2020, the thirst to do more just as lockdown prevented it and subsequent touring to generous responses, LYR look forward to the following confirmed UK Tour dates:
Sat 23 Sep – Leeds, Howard Assembly Room
Sun 24 Sep – Manchester, The Deaf Institute
Tue 26 Sep – Edinburgh, The Mash House
Wed 27 Sep – Sunderland, Pop Recs
Fri 29 Sep – Margate, Where Else?
Sat, 30 Sep – Stowmarket, John Peel Centre
Sun 1 Oct – Bristol, Redgrave Theatre
Wed 4 Oct – London, Hoxton Hall
Thu 5 Oct – Coventry, Warwick Arts Centre
Tickets are on sale now with album pre-order and bundle options available via links on the band’s website at www.lyrband.com
LYR’s public-facing story began as the band announced their first album, Call In The Crash Team would be released in 2020. Their artistic partnership stretches back to 2009, when Walters approached Armitage publisher to explore possible collaborations, subsequently setting the poet’s words to music on his 2011 solo song Redwoods. A two-part formula that evidently had potential to grow, Walters approached musical acquaintance, Pearson with the prospect of creating a genre-splicing ‘supergroup’. Sending a Dictaphone to Armitage which, after some time, was returned with widowed words looking for a permanent home, the nucleus of LYR’s first incarnation was formed over distance.
Whilst Call In The Crash Team was artistically successful, opening the door to greater possibility, the three-piece point to The Ultraviolet Age as the advanced stage of that possibility. Coming together at Pearson’s South Devon studio with focused, blended labour, as opposed to total cut-and-paste convenience, LYR worked to instrumentalise Armitage’s words and vocal delivery and make an album of cohesive themes and structure. Opposing the tag of ‘spoken word project’ or similar, the band stands apart by ruminating instead on what aural breakthroughs could only be possible with a non-singing vocalist, gifted singer-songwriter and alchemistic musician-producer.
Having announced the establishment of the EMI North label in January, The Ultraviolet Age becomes the first album to emerge from EMI’s venture into a permanent operation outside London. Setting up base in Leeds, the album is released as part of EMI North’s partnership with the city’s Clue Records label.
For up-to-date release information and future live announcements, connect with LYR online at: