The debut album from the Footprintz duo, Clarian North and Adam Hunter, has bold aspirations. On embarking on creating Escape Yourself they aimed to make "a real album", one that captures the imagination and, possibly, reels you back in later on in life, helping to re-capture the past but shifting with the added perspective that comes with age:
"When I was 18 I had those albums you'd escape with. When we were making the Footprintz record that was really our aim - to produce an album that kids can listen and escape to."
For an album from a 'dance' duo on the respectable but relatively dance floor focused Visionquest, they have their work cut out for them - DJs just don't make those kind of albums.
And the reality is that I'm not sure anyone makes those kind of albums anymore. It's always difficult to judge the importance of the present as it happens but the age of the classic album feels largely over... Looking back at 2012's best releases and it's hard to envisage many of them resulting in a generation getting lost in them. Frank Ocean's Channel Orange, maybe... But the way people consume music, particularly young people, has changed.
Regardless, North & Hunter give it a good try, and Escape Yourself has moments where the effort pays off. There's more than a cursory nod to the eighties here, with Depeche Mode's dark-emotional-male sound a consistent reference point. The album also benefits from shining production work from, giving the whole album a polished but dank, basement feel.
Escape Yourself is an album built around the difficulty of growing up, the transition from youth to adulthood, where it often feels like your mature identity is escaping what you once were. It's this topic that the lyrics focus on, whether in confusion and alienation (Uncertain Change) or hapless temporal celebration (Zanzibar).
In one sitting it is a relatively heavy affair. The consistency of tone is in some ways admirable, yet over the course of nearly 70-minutes it feels a little like a series of laden sermons. There is not enough variety to break Escape Yourself up into acts and too much "album" to dwell in the one place it inhabits. It feels trapped by the past - that eighties sound - as much as it is inspired by it.
A shame, because the moments the album takes in are, individually, well worth a listen. The open analogue space of Dangers Of The Mouth, the heavily percussive and experimental The Nightingale and the sudden rush of hope that comes in the open vocal delivery on the bridge of Heaven Felt Like A Night.
Escape Yourself is clearly an album of devotion and Visionquest deserve to be commended for their clear willingness to take a risk. It's unlikely you will find this pumping out of a teenager's headphones though - it's just too focused on the past of its creators to do that.
Escape Yourself is released through Visionquest on 18 March, available for pre-order from Amazon.co.uk on CD [affiliate link].