Helene – Heliotrope
Lovely LP this and I wish I’d checked this out earlier instead of letting it sit about in a pile of CDs the past few months. Anyway, enough of my ponderings. Helene’s music is based on her beautiful, dusky, ever-so-slightly fragile voice which is backed by some very clever arrangements and topped by chiming melodies. The opener to this, her third LP, Escalator to the Stars, driven by a metronomic tick and enhanced by the beautiful pop melody, could possibly be one of the best summer songs you’ll encounter this year.
You do have to be in a dreamy frame of mind to take this LP on board, though. I wouldn’t say Heliotrope is going to grab you by the throat, rather it floats around in the background, waiting for the listener to connect at some point. Still, some of the songs merit careful attention. One such is O What A Mess, which grows and grows into something truly sublime; and the title track is a beautiful woozy lament that doesn’t half remind me of an incredibly drugged Its All Over Now Baby Blue.
There is a definite feeling that there’s a lot of love towards 60s troubadours like Lee & Buckley. You can hear this in the arrangements to certain tracks, such as International Klein Blue or Waterlow, which is almost treading on Roger McGuinn’s toes, so to speak. And at times, there are echoes of Mazzy Starr or Julie Cruise. None of this should be seen as criticism; rather it should give you an idea of the music’s quality.
Helene is obviously into making us all think she’s a tortured chanteuse with titles like Pills or Yesterday’s Girl. However there are moments where (as on Stitches) she trades in some Postcard-y pop (listen to the guitar riff on that track, it could be James Kirk).
This is an extremely pleasant listen. And for once, the word pleasant should be seen as a definite recommendation, not a criticism.
Words: Richard Foster