Engineers - "Always Returning"

Peaceful.  Endearing.  Calming.  Soothing.  Mellow to the bone.  You should listen to this album in a serene environment to enjoy, or play it to calm things down when you are stressed and harried.

Described as a Shoegaze and/or a Dream Pop band I was initially disappointed.  Shoegaze, to me, is something a bit louder and with a darker tone.  Dream Pop is a bit closer to the truth but again I have an image in my mind that Dream Pop is more airy and just shy of psychedelic.

I would compare Engineers more with The Moody Blues or Alan Parsons Project.  Since those band are generally classified as Progressive Rock, I would therefore postulate that Engineers would best be classified similarly.  The only problem is that the comparison is rather limited to the above bands slower numbers.  Uptempo for Engineers is more Pop than Rock - so may I suggest Progressive Pop?

Regardless of genre:

1. "Bless the Painter" is a mid-tempo poem that in just a few words praises the creative spark in everyone, but warns against those that aren't honest with their art.

2. "Fight or Flight" is dreamy and floats you along as you receive encouraging words to believe in yourself and take chances.  It wouldn't be out of place on a self improvement tape, and the message has the ring of truth and experience behind it.

3. "It Rings So True" conversely is more about missed opportunities and implied regrets.  There is a sorrow in this song but without desolation.

4. "Drive Your Car" encourages you to get away from things and get a better perspective.  The song says "drive you car right to the sea" but I like to visit the mountains and look out on a spacious vista instead... I think they would agree the effect should be the same.

5. "Innsbruck" has no words.  Makes me think of wind chimes for some reason I can't really explain.

6. "Searched for Answers" is upbeat and energetic without disturbing the calm.

7. "Smiling Back" is a look for the silver lining kind of song.  Here the lyrics are simple and effective at conjuring emotions and work in balance with the music.  "Those words are for you, neither bad or good, but always looking up"

8. "A Million Voices" picks up the pace again with a happy breakup song.  I love the direct approach and lack of syrupy sentiment: "I won't hold you back if you wanna leave, the best thing I can say to you is go"

9. "Smoke and Mirrors" is instrumental and holds its own without the need for words.

10. "Always Returning"is a beautiful track with poetic lyrics that read as well as they work in the song.

I purchased the 2 disc version with the complete album in instrumental form as the second disc.  It came in a nice cd sized booklet.  The lyrics are presented in a photo essay style with the images complimenting and not competing.  The font could be larger but  with minimal effort I could read them without straining.  All in all it is a nice package.

The current members of Engineers are: Mark Peter, Ulrich Schnauss, and Matthew Linley.

The band's website with images, samples etc.

Engineers' facebook page

Although I did genuinely enjoy this record I would not rate it quite as high as their previous records for strength of composition.  There were some truly outstanding tracks on their past records and Always Returning didn't contain anything quite as good.  I do tend to prefer most bands first records and it is true in this case as well.  "Come in Out of the Rain" is my favorite track of Engineers and was the track that originally got me interested in them.

Check out:

  • Engineers for "Home", "Come in Out of the Rain" and "Forgiveness"
  • Three Fact Finder for "International Dirge" and "Brighter as We Fall"
  • In Praise of More for "To an Evergreen" and "Subtober"

They also did an amazing version of Pink Floyd's "Hey You" which you can get on their EP To an Evergreen


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