Snails Hard Wired *Monorail Exclusive with Signed Riso Print*

Glass Modern
10th November 2021

Stephen's Pick

View All Staff Picks

Format Info

LP + print

Monorail Exclusive Edition with signed Riso Print

We’re very excited to announce the return of Bristol’s Snails, with Hard-Wired, an exuberant, gorgeous new album on the Glass Modern label. Our exclusive edition comes on with a Riso-print by artist Caio Wheelhouse, fully signed by Snails.

Over 10 songs that unfold with an origami-like precision and attention to detail, the west country 6-piece expand their lush, outsider-pop template into new sonic and emotional territory, alchemising existential doubt into condensed elegies of often breathtaking beauty. From opener “It doesn’t have to be true”, Hard-Wired envelops the listener in a comforting intimacy of sound and vocal harmony, overflowing with a subtlety of lyricism and generosity of spirit that led Pete Paphides to praise their debut Safe in Silence as “simply the most effortlessly charming set of songs I’ve heard in a long time.”

But for each rousing melody or affirming chorus on the new record, an emotional flipside is clearly evident in its lyrical themes. Hard-Wired is a bittersweet and often troubled meditation on love, intimacy and the limits of human connection. For the band’s songwriter Dan Weltman, this grew out of a challenging period of personal doubt, as well as the difficulties of an ongoing long-distance relationship. Writing turned out to be a powerful way to dissect and begin to disentangle these complex emotional knots. “Listening back to these songs,” he says, “I hear quite upbeat and sunny pop, but at the time I was living with a lot of fear. It took me a long time to see, but you can’t really love if you are in fear. They’re just opposing forces. While I don’t think I knew it at the time, these songs were a crucial stage in a necessary process for me, of letting go. I’ve realised that if we love, then none of us have anything to be afraid of.

“In this way, and for me at least, I can now view this as quite a spiritual album. Spirit is simply our essence, which is easily tarnished by the our everyday needs, desires and interactions. With me, some of that tarnishing had been left undisturbed for years and I found myself with a lot of work to do. My current preoccupation is for stripping back these layers and feeling ok with what I find, which is my essential self. It can sound simplistic, and I think I’d scoffed at this kind of language before. But self-acceptance is such a fundamental basis for creativity. It can take a long time and I’m a slow learner. That old wounds, for example, are part of us but don’t have to define us. Now when I listen back to some of these love songs, I’m realise I’m also singing to myself and the part of me I’ve always found difficult to love.”

Expanding more on the creative journey from initial spark to finished track, Dan says: “A song will often emerge as an outlet for anxiety, whether about relationships or the darkness I think many of us sense in contemporary politics. However, I find my natural instinct draws me to turn that inside out, to reveal some kind of hope and beauty that I need to survive. In this way, songwriting is one route for me to reaffirm my belief in humans as essentially good.” Recording sessions for the LP were spread across three different Bristol studios. With basic tracking completed, further elements were added in his bedroom studio, from vintage synths and drum machines, to strings, Mellotron and percussion. Arrangements and song structure in some cases went through several iterations until they rang true to Dan’s ears.

The next chapter for Snails is less clear, but no less exciting for the Buckinghamshire-raised songwriter. He concludes: “This record, and the subsequent album that will follow, represents the end of a type of creative approach for me. Namely, of me sat in my bedroom trying to out-do the Beatles, whether I thought anyone was listening or not. I’m gaining the confidence in my life and music to explore more long-form, collaborative and unstructured paths, and I’m fascinated by where that might lead. Having said all that, I’m incredibly proud of this album and, for now, writing a great pop song was my ultimate aim with each of these tracks. I was concerned, occasionally obsessed, with achieving a balance of form and function. I wanted them to be of purpose in people’s lives, as great songs always have been for me – a friend in good times and bad.”

Snails on this record are Dan Weltman: guitar, vocals, Anna Kissell: vocals, Holly McIntosh: bass guitar, vocals, Robin Williams: electric guitar, Matthew Chaney: keyboards and Steve Dixon: drums. We feel they’re the epitome of adventurous pop music, they make everything seem very simple and right. If in doubt follow the song.