The Shining Tongues - This Body Of Mine Will Disintegrate (Album Review)

Nothing like a bit of nihilism to start the weekend. On The Shining Tongues' second album, This Body Of Mine Will Disintegrate, the Londonites face life's bleaker truths through spiritually searching and psychedelically leaning progressive folk-rock tunes. Spearheaded by songwriter Daniel Knowler and the idiosyncratic bass playing of Sam Mclaughlin, the group's current line-up features the punchy drumming of Willie Nash and the nuanced guitars and backing vocals of Robin Jax. Recorded throughout 23 and 24 at Pirate Studios in London, the album follows 2021's Milk of God and boasts an expansive sound hellbent on creating fluctuating dynamics and viscerally colourful experiences for the listener. 

The grand eight-plus-minute opening track, "The Field", introduces an album with space-bending intentions ("above the sky, an ocean") as its atmospheric introduction develops into crystalline art rock. At first, the songs appear dark and complex, which they sometimes can be (the disquieting "Ladder of Perfection" is more sound art than music), but more often than not, the group choose joy, with radio-ready contemporary rock numbers such as the explosive "Sleeping Breathing", or the progressively upbeat closing track "A Sun Which Leaves No Shadow". 

Like a worker feels bliss when clocking off on a Friday, The Smiling Tongues give a nod to the end of suffering occasioned by death. It may sound bleak and paradoxical, but there's value in that perspective. We don't tend to celebrate death in our culture, preferring to ignore the fact that we are all living on a dying planet. But so-called "sunny nihilism" has been gaining traction ever since Nietzsche proclaimed that "God is dead." This awareness is something The Shining Tongues use in their work. For example, we can hear the 80s-tinged glow of Echo and the Bunnymen in "Visions From Pig" alongside imagistically dark lyrics that reference death ("creeping in your thoughts, buried in your bed"). Likewise, the hypnotic melodies and spacey guitar sound of "Muscle" come off as a punkier Gilmour-era Floyd, maintaining a yacht rock vibe that keeps it accessible.

Elsewhere, "Forgive" operates around offbeat time signatures and piano lines that propel a lament on the complicated feelings which arise when forgiving those who've wrongdone us, "May you sleep in the belly of happiness," sings Knowler. However, there's something sinister about this one, especially as highly affected sounds siren off in the background, and Mclaughlin's unrelenting bass groove induces stasis. The sweeping epicness of "Wonderful Pig" has cinematic scope, even if it is thematically vague. 

This Body Of Mine Will Disintegrate by The Shining Tongues is a robust and thought-provoking affair that incorporates folk, psychedelia, and art rock into its weighty aims. Through constant shifts in dynamics, experimentally unsettling instrumentation, and poetic lyrics, the group arrive at something philosophically edgy without being too esoteric. There's an absorbing quality to it, and if you do find yourself drifting off while listening, you should be able to rest in peace.