Jazz group loses a member, changes name and sound, otherwise business as usual
In the four years since their last album, the Portico Quartet, have not only change musically, but in the personal department too. After the departure of Keir Vine, the rest of the group decided not to replace him, but to carry on as a trio.
Their new album Portico is a slick 38 minutes, that sojourners in to more poppy territory than on their previous albums. This in part is down to the vocal collaborators. Folk Rock singer Jono McCleary takes the lion’s share of vocal duties. His haunting vocals fit perfectly with the glitchy electronica Portico serve up. Alt-J’s Joe Newman make three appearances on singles 101, Atacama and Brittle. There is a dreamlike quality to these track, which is unlike anything Portico have released before. The album closes with Jamie Woon’s contribution. This is collaboration mixes Portico and Woon’s styles so perfectly, it’s hard to see where one stops and the other starts. And it closes the album perfectly.
The obvious difference between Portico and their previous three albums, apart from no longer being a Quartet, is that the jazz elements have been toned down/removed, and their electronica tendencies have been ramped up. Fans of their original albums might be put off by this slight change. Luckily, however, the music is just as fresh and exciting as when they were a quartet. The other noticeable difference is the amount of guest vocalists. In the past Portico Quartet tracks were predominantly instrumental. While McCleary, Newman and Woon do an excellent job, it does feel that what who they’re really looking for is past member Nick Mulvey’s vocals. While the idea of re-joining his old band, his inclusion in the future could really make an interesting addition, to this every changing band.