Midnight Ambulance break through the door with “Smoke and Sweets”
The ever-talented Scottish alt-rock duo Midnight Ambulance have had listeners hooked since the release of their three mesmeric singles in 2021: “Black Gloves”, “5 AM” and “Rust”. Yesterday, the band released a gorgeously thunderous new single, “Smoke and Sweets”. Opening with echoing vocalisations, the track builds on a drum rhythm that pans like a heartbeat. The quietly measured voice of Amelia Stokes (vocals/drums) begins to harmonise with itself. It’s as if they’ve turned the lights off.
If this doesn’t encourage you to see Midnight Ambulance live, nothing will…
“Smoke and Sweets” has an uncomplicated melody which never strays too far from the root note, yet the tension is relentless. A single synth note drones through the first half of “Smoke and Sweets”, boiling up in suspense until Fraser Fulton (guitar) enters on a darkly fuzzy guitar, bolstering that droning note. When everything falls out and leaves Amelia’s voice alone with Fraser’s feedback, you know you’re in for a ride.
The band deliver an excellent payoff with this breakdown. Fraser’s guitar tone is fraying at the edges, following a simple yet crushing riff that brings to mind the stoner rock of Sleep and Black Mountain. Amelia’s melody quickens into staccato, its frenetic pace cutting through the track’s climactic, smoggy atmosphere.
It’s moments like this that draw attention to the intriguing storytelling going on in “Smoke and Sweets”. Amelia sings for a collective ‘we’, who are ‘falling down’ and lying ‘beneath the ground’. With lines like ‘you take your mind and you let it go too far’, the narrative grows more sinister. There’s an underlying sense that the narrator is rising from the dead to take revenge against the song’s subject.
Midnight Ambulance are a band who are keenly connected to strong visual imagery. Amelia and Fraser have previously collaborated with Scottish visual artist Ritchie Collins to create some truly inspired animated music videos. Looking closely at the artwork credits for “Smoke and Sweets”, can we expect a similar collaboration in a music video for this gritty, dramatic track?
One thing’s for certain: if “Smoke and Sweets” is a harbinger of what’s to come, listeners can anticipate more thrillingly cool tunes from future Midnight Ambulance releases.
A huge congratulations to Amelia and Fraser on the release of “Smoke and Sweets”. Alongside Spotify, you can find this rock duo on their website, Bandcamp, YouTube, Apple Music, Deezer, Amazon Music and social media channels. and If this band tick all your alt-rock boxes, you can check out our interview with Midnight Ambulance from January this year!