It seems like only yesterday that John Fryer and Louise Fraser released Tales from a Silent Ocean, the first EP from their Muricidae project, but here they are singing back to the Sirens with another set of elegant tracks. Tears Are Stronger Than Waves is a collection that will transport listeners to islands of imagination, carried on the gentle wave(form)s of “Home” or swept away by the tidal surge of “Morphine.”
The journey begins with “Strange,” which echoes the mysterious resonances and rhythms of the sea while Fraser sweeps the air above into misty apparitions. As with Fryer’s previous work with This Mortal Coil, Muricidae is triple-distilled romanticism infused with essential oils of melancholy and euphoria. It’s a volatile mix, but the balance is maintained by allowing the individual elements to breathe: sounds swell and dissipate into vapour, revealing and releasing tension. Fraser’s vocals are sensual and rich, coming in waves.
With “Morphine,” Muricidae switch from sails to engines, cutting through the surf with diesel-fuelled riffs. One of Fryer’s strengths is his ability to navigate rock conventions without ever sounding conventional, so we find guitars yielding to synths in the middle 8 before reclaiming their space. This is music for wakeboarding by tattooed kids who don’t want to work as financial analysts but could if they wanted.
“Should I Stay” appeared in a different version on Tales from a Silent Ocean. Reworked by Fryer, piano and strings are brought into the foreground but synthetic brass and percussive elements provide additional dimensions. As with the other songs on this EP, it’s a reminder of the closeness with which Sigur Ros must have studied his earlier material. If there is more of this in the ship’s hold, we’d love it to be unloaded soon.