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Dublin, Leinster, Ireland | SELF

Dublin, Leinster, Ireland | SELF
Band Alternative Rock


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"Trees Dream in Algebra (2)"

Few Irish artists have great debut albums. It takes most of them years practicing their craft before the release an essential record. CODES have taken their sweet time about making and releasing their debut, and as a result, it's one of those rare beasts - a stellar debut album.

'Malfunctions' serves as an introduction to the record, but is not a reflection on what's coming up. As soon as second track (and single) 'This is Goodbye' gets going, you know you're onto something special. It's a song already crying out for an arena tour, and maybe even a stadium tour. It has everything needed to make it a live classic, it soars and droops, returns, and is a powerhouse of a tune.

Another great masterstroke is how each song segues into the next, making this a compellingly cohesive album, rather than just a bunch of songs. Thus 'This is Goodbye' sails into 'Guided by Ghosts', a song better than the majority of the new Muse album. The production of this song and the rest moves the album above many other Irish releases as it's so glossy - this is all thanks to Manics helmer Greg Haver. Listen to 'Our Mysteries (Missed Histories)' to see what I mean. On a different record, this would have a raw edgy feel, but thanks to its smooth edges and shiny sound, it sounds like a single waiting to happen.

The album isn't just shiny, it's glorious lyrically as well as musically. 'Telos' is a lovely soft intimate instrumental interlude, worthy of Sigur Ros. The band excels all-round, and lyrics like this testify this brilliance: "The faded photographs of winter / In the spaces inbetween, I find your letter / That’s when I begin to wonder, if all the hope in a new year could bring you back". Beautiful.

There are tonnes of possible singles on this album, and each listen will bring a different favourite track. That's the power of this debut. Every song is a standout. 'Memorial', 'Starry Eyed', 'Cities', everything I've still to mention, is fantastic.

One of the best albums of the year, and a debut to stand alongside Fight Like Apes last year. Five stars. If I could give it six, I would.

- Swear I'm not Paul

"Codes win Best Irish Album 2010" - PhantomFM

"Trees Dream in Algebra"

Review Snapshot: A flawless debut for Dublin 4 piece C O D E S; Trees Dream in Algebra is one of those rare albums where the realisation matches the vision. With its dreamy arrangements, soaring vocal harmonies and often heart stopping lyrics, Trees Dream in Algebra is the best Irish record in years.

The Cluas Verdict? 9.5 out of 10

When I was given access to Trees Dream in Algebra for the first time, I must admit, I was a little nervous. As anyone who knows me or who reads CLUAS will know, I've been raving about C O D E S for a long time now. Could their debut record possibly live up to my expectations; would it match the energy and magic of their live shows? I shouldn't have worried. Trees Dream in Algebra is simply breathtaking.

Indeed, the only element of this record that is more impressive than the scale and scope of its vision is its execution. Then again, Trees Dream in Algebra was recorded in the UK and mixed in New Zealand with Manic Street Preachers producer Greg Haver and mastered in New York by Greg Calbi (U2, Interpol, Kings of Leon) so you wouldn't expect the production quality to be anything flawless. However, this record blends so seamlessly that it is impossible to imagine the track listing being in any other order.

Those of you who have seen C O D E S live will be very familiar with the opening two tracks, Malfunctions and recent single This is Goodbye, as they are also used to open the band's live set. This is Goodbye, with its mix of soaring vocals, powerful melody and delicate lyrics, sets the tone for the rest of the album. Trees Dream in Algebra is an album drenched in themes of love, of heartbreak, and laced with those moments where the lines between reality and dreams become blurred.

I once described C O D E S' music as 'grandiose sonic landscapes painted in painstakingly minute detail' and this is very evident throughout the album but especially on title track In Algebra and the stunning instrumental Telos. I've never been one think about such things but Telos is so captivating, so beautiful, so, well, appropriate (being the Greek for end), that I can't think of a better song to have played at my funeral. Failing that, it could always soundtrack the end of the world, whichever comes first.

It is almost impossible to pick a stand-out track from this record. There are so many potential singles, Memorial, Starry Eyed, In Algebra, Our Mysteries and Cities, not to mention previous singles such as This is Goodbye, Guided by Ghosts and current single You Are Here. Indeed, the only fault that I can find with this record is that it doesn't contain C O D E S first single Edith. It would appear she has died, which is a pity, but there are more than enough quality songs on Trees Dream in Algebra to recover from the loss very quickly.

There are times in this business when you can have really high expectations of a band and, more often than not, they find it impossible to live up to those lofty ambitions. With Trees Dream in Algebra, C O D E S have broken the mould. It is a stunning debut; full of intimacy and energy and places C O D E S firmly at the top of Ireland's most exciting and interesting bands. It is not just likely to be the best record you will hear this year (and that's saying something given the quality of Irish music released this year) but, in 10 years time, when CLUAS is putting together its list of best Irish albums from its second decade in existence, I can't see any reason why Trees Dream in Algebra won't be close to the top.

Steve O'Rourke
- Cluas Music Website (

"Trees Dream in Algebra - 3.5 / 5"

CODES are a band who know exactly what they want. Ask their record label, EMI Ireland, who were approached not by a band who had cobbled together a few ramshackle demos for consideration, but one who had a polished collection of songs and a plan for world domination ready to go. It's no surprise that they were snapped up by a major label.

Their forward-thinking attitude is written all over their strangely-titled album. Formed from the ashes of [LOST], the Dublin quartet have - with the help of Manic Street Preachers producer Greg Haver - made a album that's scarily accomplished for a debut. If you're a fan of big-sounding indie songs with more than a touch of the epic about them (think Muse, Coldplay), you'll love what Darragh Anderson and co. have done. Anderson's soft, almost feminine vocals are just about strong enough to spearhead the CODES assault, and even if his lack of variation is slightly grating by the 13th track, his voice is adeptly woven into these tracks and is an integral element of the band's sound.

'Trees Dream in Algebra' is a well-sequenced record, too. From the quasi-apocalyptic, static-filled opener 'Malfunctions' to the tight harmonies that close the album with '4 Winters', it's a record befitting of a film soundtrack. Pristine radio-friendly stories of heartbreak ('This is Goodbye'), theatrical, orchestral tunes ('Our Mysteries') and songs that are crying out for mammoth lighters-aloft crowd singalongs ('Magnetic North' and 'Starry Eyed') all feature at some stage, too.

Yet while there's a lot of big bombast at every corner here, there's also the feeling that an emphasis on understatement would have made for a more 'complete' listening experience - a fact cemented by the classical-style instrumental 'Telos', which gives the listener a break from the onslaught of anthems. Still, as a debut it's an impressive achievement, and surely makes CODES a safe bet for international success.

Review by Lauren Murphy -

"Trees Dream In Algebra - 10/10"

Funny how things work out, isn’t it? A wave of anticipation and hype is built up around a band ahead of the release of their debut album. You would think that they’d give their all to make the release count. Make the best album they could.

In some cases, this has happened in 2009. Other releases have been decidedly sub-par, with certain acts failing to live up to their potential. An all-too-familiar mixture of excitement and trepidation rose up within me when given access to ‘Trees Dream In Algebra’, Irish band Codes’ debut album, last week. They are a great live act (I can testify to that), and their earlier material was very good indeed – though I noted with slight disappointment the exclusion of debut single ‘Edith’. I was more than a little worried about how all this would translate to the studio.

An hour later, I am thinking: ‘How could I ever have doubted this band?’

Ireland’s music scene isn’t exactly what you’d call stellar, but there has been an increase in the number of good bands here over the past few years. We have Delorentos, who split, had a re-think, and re-formed all in the space of six weeks earlier this year, and whose second LP, ‘You Can Make Sound’ lands on October 9th; We have Director – ‘I’ll Wait For Sound’ was an astonishing progression from the wiry indie rock of 2006’s ‘We Thrive On Big Cities’. It’s released in the U.K. on September 28th. And we also have Vesta Varro, who put out a brilliant debut album, ‘Exit Here’, in September of 2007, and are beavering away at the moment, writing songs for their second album.

However, if you asked me to name five truly great Irish records from this decade, I would honestly struggle… but would say with certainty that this was one of them.

‘Malfunctions’ gets things underway with an unsettling synth part, after being ushered in by some ominous-sounding samples, which fit so well in the context of the album: ‘Staring out across the rooftops / Mapping the streetlight constellations’. Drums enter, and the song takes off. Already the staple introduction to the band’s live set, it segues effortlessly into lead single, ‘This Is Goodbye’. Darragh Anderson’s vocals soar, as he delivers the story of a troubled relationship: ‘The faded photographs of winter / In the spaces in-between, I find your letter / That’s when I begin to wonder, if all the hope in a new year could bring you back’.

Winter is actually quite a prominent theme on the album: ‘You haven’t said a word since late December’ (the driving ‘Guided by Ghosts’); ‘All the splinters of the winters so far from home’ (closer ‘4 Winters’ – yes, a definite theme developing here). Other themes include remembering past events (‘Memorial’) and identity (‘Magnetic North’, ‘You Are Here’).

The band set out to make a proper ‘album’, rather than just a collection of songs. ‘Trees Dream In Algebra’ is cleverly segued and stitched together into a flowing, cohesive piece of work, with each track linking directly into the next.

It becomes clear that while Codes enjoy creating up-tempo songs, they truly excel in the slower ones. Case in point is the masterful ‘Telos’ (that’s Greek for ‘the end’). A string-laden instrumental, it is both uplifting and crushing at once. There are ballads here too, two of which contribute to what I honestly believe to be the best three-song run of the year: ‘Truer Words’ and ‘Magnetic North’ appear either side of ‘Cities’. Both songs are delicate, atmospheric and anthemic. A clever transition from the latter ballad brings us to current single ‘You Are Here’, a synth-led stormer.

The title track – well, sort of – ‘In Algebra’ has single written all over it. The studio version of what has become the closer to the live set is even better than what I heard when they supported Keane in January. The most immediate track on the album (and that’s saying something), it is propelled by a magnificent vocal hook.

The album is brought to a close with the epic ‘4 Winters’. There is an tense undercurrent running through ‘Trees Dream In Algebra’, and the explosion around the 4:30 mark is the prefect way to release it all. A lyrical reprise of ‘Malfunctions’ – yes, the album circles in on itself too! – takes us out.

It fills me with an immense sense of pride when I think that an album this good has been created by fellow countrymen, even more so when we have needed an album like this for so long. While my other two favourite debut albums had a weak link (‘Grammatics” was ‘Cruel Tricks of the Light’, while ‘And So I Watch You From Afar’ had ‘These Riots Are Just The Beginning’ – great songs that stood out as being, well, not as good as the rest of the stellar material on offer), I simply cannot find one here.

Simply put, ‘Trees Dream In Algebra’ is a masterpiece.
10.0 - Music Fans Mic

"Live Show Review"

Hearing that one of your favourite bands have split is a lot like being told by the vet that your dog has to be put down.

You realise that there must be a very good reason behind it, but you still don't want to accept it. On hearing late last year that the Future Kings of Spain had abdicated their right to ascend the throne, I was devastated. Never again would I be able to shout 'Play Meanest Sound!' during a set. However, the blow was softened somewhat with the emergence of The Black Triangle, a band consisting of ex-members of the Future Kings of Spain (Karl Hussey and Bryan McMahon) and Bambi (Dan Barry).

Now, while I'm still not sure whether their name refers to a particularly vehement branch of lesbian feminism or not (I doubt it), I am sure, from tonight's performance, that the three-piece are capable of producing a blend of angular rock consisting of the sharp, jagged guitar work and low-down-dirty drum and bass rhythms that define the scene. Songs such as You Know It's Wrong, The Black Triangle and Daybreak show a maturity and cohesiveness beyond their two gigs as a three-piece. The Kings may be dead, but long live The Black Triangle.

It says quite a bit about the upward trajectory of C O D E S that they could get a band like Delays to merely play support. However, it becomes clear pretty quickly that, unlike the opening act, the Southampton band are very much an act whose best days are behind them. It's not for the want of trying mind. The band, particularly lead singer Greg Gilbert, give it their all. Unfortunately, it is only bus journey favourite Long Time Coming that generates more than a polite response.

The same can't be said for the audience reaction to C O D E S. After being treated to a light show that, while undoubtedly spectacular, will do nothing to cease those dogged MUSE comparisons, the band surprise everybody by launching in to a new song rather than their traditional set openers Malfunctions and This is Goodbye. As a live act, C O D E S adopt the form of a multi-limbed, multi-dimensional, multi-sensory behemoth, capable of transporting its audience light years from the Abbey Street building they entered just a few hours previously. Tracks like Cities, Trees Dream in Algebra and You are Here are particularly well received but for me, I could die a happy man after hearing tonight's rendition of Starry Eyed.

There is no denying that C O D E S have their detractors, indier than thou types who consider their sound 'too mainstream'. There are none of those here tonight though, probably at home listening to an obscure Icelandic folk band whose Mahican language debut album contains one song consisting entirely of the sound of three sheep relaxing in a sauna. That might be me being facetious but it becomes very tiresome hearing/reading people trying to out indie each other and so when a band like C O D E S comes along and produce songs and a live show as powerful and as fun - yeah, I used the f-word - as this one, it's great to be a part of it.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, C O D E S are a band destined to fill stadiums. Tonight they took one step closer.

Steve O'Rourke -


'Trees Dream In Algebra'

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Codes are an alternative/electronic quartet from Dublin, Ireland. Expansive yet melodic. Powerful yet delicate, their music colours the void between the ambience and wide-eyed wonder of soundtrack music and the energy and immediacy of live music...

Soaring vocal harmonies, dreamy arrangements and a calculated cryptography of electronic beats, piano, glockenspiel and analogue synths permeate their sound.

Codes debut album "Trees Dream In Algebra" which was recorded in Gloucestershire UK & mixed in Auckland, New Zealand with acclaimed producer Greg Haver (Manics, SFA) and mastered in NYC by Greg Calbi (U2,Interpol,Kings of Leon) is out now.

It was the winner of Best Album in Phantom FM Dublin's annual awards, is featured in Hotpress magazine's top 200 Irish albums of all time and was nominated for The Choice Music Prize 2010.