other titles...

The Foreign Department
  1. Heavy Is the Head
  2. Darkness At Noon
  3. By Depol
  4. Brighter Spells
  5. Firma
  6. Birds In Vacant Lots
  7. The Foreign Department
  8. C Ya!
  9. A Rudderless Ship
  10. Daffodil
  11. R U A Literal Child?

astrel k (ulrika spacek)

The Foreign Department

tough love
  • very limited black lp (500 only)

    Released: 8th Mar 2024

  • cd

    Released: 8th Mar 2024


Those already familiar with Edwards’ work will likely know him for fronting the cultishly great Ulrika Spacek, and given he operates as the principal songwriter in both projects, much of the same hallmarks of his cathartic, elliptical songwriting are present in Astrel K.

Nonetheless, 'The Foreign Department' feels like a rubicon moment of sorts, and the album that Edwards has unconsciously been working towards his entire creative life. Developing the confidence to arrange songs in ways he'd previously considered off-limits, while also taking cues from the opulent string and brass arrangements of records like Mercury Rev's Deserters' Songs and Death of A Ladies Man by Leonard Cohen, Edwards enlisted a range of performers to bring to life the mini-symphonies forming in his head. Perhaps it's inevitable that an album written while facing the consequences of being alone would eventually ossify around the process of bringing people together.

For all its troubled origins, 'The Foreign Department' is a remarkably warm sounding collection. Edwards' lyrics are typically knotty and neurotic, dancing around the poetry of quarter-life anxiety, but the music itself is often joyous and even uplifting, the combination expressing that neat duality of melancholic euphoria. Edwards sings variously of crises, "torrid pieces of art", of "houses on fire" and not "having the guts for it", yet these troubling sentiments are framed by seemingly incongruous swelling strings, chirping horns or motorik percussion, creating that sense of pushing forward or floating above, of wrapping your troubles in dreams, a salve for the moments when you get a bit too much for yourself.