archive review originally posted on the losing today site c. 2002 …..
Portal play it cool on this their debut long-player Reprise. Having tentatively dipped their toes into the vinyl world via releases for Earworm and Roisin to deliver some much needed chilled guitars examining dreamy montages, Reprise delivers in full sublime glory the full story wonderfully painted in colourful imagery and not a grey sky in sight. Taking their roots from The Cure, circa Pornography and the fanciful visions of the Cocteau Twins and entwining them with the tranquil overtures of Roy Montgomery and the shared realities of fellow undergrounder Manchester’s Gnac, Reprise is a scintillating journey of hypnotic craft. Within the 10 offered delicacies you’ll find traces of Slowdive, Chaperhouse and Moose forming the heart of Portal. The cool magnetically trance like states of ‘Serene’ open the proceedings, showering with layers of textured guitar sequences, uplifting in stature and magnificently acting as precursors for the majestic double blow of ‘Shifting’ and ‘Lost’ that enter the fray later and define the Portal trademark so superbly. ‘Second Thought’ features the vocals of Rachel Hughes whose fragility at times recalls the remarkably angelic Liz Fraser ‘Arc’ co written with Jon Attwood of Yellow Six fame, seductively ensnares the listener into a voyage of loops and repetitively delicate chords. Reprise quickly cocoons itself in its own beauty, weaving and shaping an amorphous path. ‘Shifting’ is Portals crowning glory, away from the glare it’s a haunting piece leaden heavy with desire and ambition. Those familiar with Montgomery / Heaphy’s album from last year called True will welcome this with open arms. ‘Shifting’ is so teasing it’ll have you reaching for the skip back button every time. A recommended adventure for those who love their mod music alluring and calming.