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The Manchester edition of Now Then is no longer publishing content. Visit the Sheffield edition.


Opening Fragments is a din of synthesiser that progresses into cheerful melodic ukulele reminiscent of Belle and Sebastian. It’s a comparison that doesn’t cease with the melody but continues in the charming male-female vocal harmonies and in the lines delivered by the seemingly oxymoronic lyricist Greg Jackson.

As ‘Poor Boy’ gives way to ‘Secondary Now’, it introduces more luscious sounds as tender vocals marry, and with gentle undertones of acoustic guitar sees the most delicate moment on the EP. Here, we hear a group displaying a great array of influences through an eclectic yet coherent style with intriguing instrumentation and great diversity. The quintet shows what expansive sounds can be gained from simple instrumentation, an ear for melody and subtle yet indispensable production tricks that breathe life into contemplative lyrics within great vocal interplay. An uplifting 16 minutes of anybody’s day.


The debut LP of Claire Brentnall and Richard Knox, better known as Shield Patterns, is an eerie blend of bewitching, layered rhythms. Brentnall’s voice glides breathily over pulsing electronic beats, reminiscent of a siren beckoning those who delve deeper into some haunted retreat.

The listener is taken on a journey that twists and turns through various musical experimentations while holding their interest, the best part of Contour Lines being the surprising turn of vocals and instrumentals while retaining the careful control exhibited throughout. Its song titles add to the ethereal element of the album. Tracks aptly named ‘Shade’, ‘Dust Hung Heavy’ and ‘Present State’ somehow conjure the essence of the music contained within. The attention to the overall experience of the album, something that is often overlooked these days, is where Shield Patterns shine most.