Carmen Villain – Sleeper

Villain doesn’t have to force her personality or her problems down your throat in an effort to show she’s trying or “solved shit” after all. This is what she’s made, and you dig it or you don’t.

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Sometimes you really feel like giving up. I really like this record, and have been playing it off and on for a few months, but didn’t know much about the artist so, as you do I decided to have a nose about on the net. After finding not very much at all, I thought, sod it let’s read what other reviewers say; something I don’t generally do, as I’m busy enough working through my own pieces. And anyway, it’s a sort of busman’s holiday, I hope you understand. One really, really got my goat; the review I’d read on Pitchfork. I quote the LP’s summary: Music expressing detachment is easy, but music that addresses it requires some heavier lifting.” Frankly, (apart from wondering precisely what the sources are used to come up with such an idea), I think that’s a preposterous conceit. Why on earth these kinds of arbitrary judgments over the relative merits of a particular approaches and content should be taken as some sort of gospel, OR take precedence over the fact that Villain clangs her guitar in a really enjoyable manner is beyond me. And anyway, the reviewer can’t have heard/“got” The Marble Index or Broken English. Or Low for that matter.

And everyone goes on and on about the fact that Villain is/was a model. So what?

No, what you get here is a cold, tough, distant record made by a “cynical ex-model” that deals with everything and nothing in particular. And it sounds damned fine to these ears. The sound is nothing new, but  - despite the tales of alienation and “being a product”, as well as the omnipresence of a sort of jaded, burnt out cool - there’s a real presence here and it is a cohesive body of work; and one that should be listened to as a whole, maybe at one remove.  Villain doesn’t have to force her personality or her problems down your throat in an effort to show she’s trying or “solved shit” after all. This is what she’s made, and you dig it or you don’t.

The opener Two Towns is moody enough but – when compared to the rest of the LP, fairly straightforward rock track, albeit with that attractive guitar clatter, acting as a sort of promise of further delights. Second track Easy comes on like some Bongwater work out before slipping off the rails completely with the aid of some mangled, whacked/whammied out guitar noises. The whole disorientating soundscapes carry on with Lifeissin and Obedience, a long work out which gets very druggy indeed. At this point you are deep in Broken English territory (as is Dreamo); it’s a LONELY record. It’s trying to make you sense that loneliness and detachment too, however off-handedly. More broken dreams and shattered illusions, seen through a fisheye lens or down some back street.

Now and again things snarl up; How Much drags itself out of the LP’s existential torpor to issue a brisk set of observations set over a choppy, wailing soundscape. Kingwoman is a sinister sort of rhumba with a great vocal refrain, whereas And It May Well Die has a steamy side to it, cooking up a growly, dark Goth-pop or sorts. And fair fucks for covering the great Shocking Blue too, Demon Lover’s a great choice and this is a fine and confident take.

Read what you want into this LP – and its creator - but most of all just enjoy it.