The debut album from Ambrosius, Pathways is abundant in captivating songwriting, channeling strong lyrical pursuits of contemplating the human experience — and especially one’s journey into self-confidence in traversing to the unknown — alongside rousing rock productions, fond of hooky guitar lines and magnetic string work. The Oslo-based quintet thoroughly impress across the album’s 12 tracks.
The opening “Shadow Logic” stirs in its dynamic tonal range, from trickling guitar momentum in the verses to an anthemic outpouring. A rousing refrain injects themes of shadows and an end, following more contemplative verses that question the status quo and embrace individuality. String infusions are captivating throughout with their blasts of vibrancy. “Shadow Logic” sets the album in motion with satiating impact, lyrically showing a gripping sense of self-reflection within a metaphorical battle between light and darkness.
A more rock-forward energy shows on the brisk “Broken Bones,” wherein imagery of internal and external struggles alike encounter judgment in response to diverse paths in life; the album’s themes of taking different roads, and embracing resulting freedom and individuality, persists strongly here and throughout the album. A yearning for a different time and place is also apparent on the stellar “Hollywood Babeism.” Radiant guitar lines and flourishing strings complement musings on pining for a more fulfilling life. “Running on the western shore, I’m in need of plenty more,” the vocals let out during the hooky refrain, using Tinseltown as imagery for achieving one’s lofty dreams.
Another highlight, “Open Tab” opens aptly with a barroom-like setting; drunken conversations and jazz-band brassy swells appear briefly, prior to the emergence of frolicking guitar and gentle brass warmness. “We drink and we’ll dance ‘til the morning is here,” is sung with jubillance and celebration, capturing a sense of confidence and self-empowerment that’s achieved when surrounded by friends. The “we’ll live without fear,” vocal and backing anthemic reflection highlights a sense of carefree living, proudly in the context of one’s unique personal pursuits.
Darker rock pursuits compel on “Razor Burn,” where nocturnal guitar spurts and plucky string work build into a haunting vocal layering; the backing vocal work in the central chorus is wholly memorable, crooning: “The truth is too great to handle / The truth is changing.” An acoustic-laden mid-point enthralls into a debonair guitar solo, furthering the effort’s sturdy aesthetical appeal. “Align” also resonates in its themes of seeking truth, referencing “ancient stars,” and distant planets with starry-eyed wonderment — producing an emotively intense rock sound with shades of Manic Street Preachers. A nifty jazz-forward interlude further emphasizes the band’s versatility, on display alongside gripping self-introspective themes throughout this fantastic album.