The type of thing you'd listen to on a Sunday morn after a hard nights' clubbing back in the nineties.
Right, I have to immediately point out that everything else I have to say about this album fades into a crushing insignificance when we contemplate the cover. It features a Panda (well, to be more precise a person wearing a panda costume) playing a trumpet in the woods. The reverse cover shows the "panda" walking lost in the woods, seemingly crying. Do I have to recommend this record any further?
Well, maybe, in that some of you will think that I'm being ironical, and will not take my pontificating seriously. So, I'll describe the music. If you'll allow me to seemingly argue against myself a little while longer, (in order to describe the music better), the charge that I brought against myself (that of irony) is an interesting starting point, for the music and cover all hark to the mid nineties, referencing bands like Air, Beck, Sound Gallery or Barry Adamson. The type of thing you'd listen to on a Sunday morn after a hard nights' clubbing back then. Lots of brass, strings (and this album is graced by The National Brass Band of Bulgaria) and trippy beats coupled with breathy female vocals. Yup, its outrageously out of fashion in these battleship grey, angularly metallic times, and that's precisely why I recommend it to you (apart from the panda revelation of course).
The vocals are split three ways between Angela McCluskey, Deborah Anderson and the enigmatically (or gnomically) named Mau. This split serves to bring different angles to the lush orchestration and the intelligently nodding beats. McCluskey is the chanteuse, bringing a salty interpretation of the 1950s tinged big band number, "Love's Almighty" a track very reminiscent of OedipusSchmoedipus era Adamson. No matter, it's a belter of a song, brimful of sarcasm. Anderson is softer in her delivery giving more room to the mellow rhythms that accompany her tracks. It's all very continental, cafe bars and croissants and reading Andre Gide whilst wearing shades. The closest references we have nowadays are the music of The Divine Comedy or one or two of the more commercial Yann Tiersin releases.
Mau's vocals are very sinister and a track he sings on is for me the highlight of this very polished release. "Hollywood on My Toothpaste" would normally get a severe birching from me, just for the stupidity of it's title, if it were not for the brooding quality of the music. Actually that is my main niggle with this album; the bloody song titles, which decline in their quality as the album goes on. "Tuesday" (all ninety seconds of it) is followed by "Another Day"...Hmm... The last track "Fifteen Minutes" lasts, surprisingly, for fifteen minutes, except it doesn't. It's one of those very nineties tricks of leaving a snippet of music to be played after about 10 minutes of silence from your cd player (always billed as the surprise moment if you left your cd player on) and normally would drive you to paroxisms of impatience.
But that's just me. Don't listen. Go check this out.
Words : Richard Foster