TripleAre - A New Dawn - Published (of sorts)
EDIT TO BLOG POST: THIS IS THE LAST IN SERIES OF THESE RotW POSTS. All reviewing efforts have been moved to www.sicmagazine.net where you are welcome to pay to visit. Kind regards
Today sees my first accepted submissions to an online publication. I will shortly be published, of sorts, at [sic] magazine. A published critic. Not where I started, nor what I initially aimed at, but nevertheless I'm rather chuffed. This style of writing has become my bread and butter of late so it's fantastic to have been recognised.
These three pieces constitute my first requested submission:
Record of the Week
Wild Beasts – Two Dancers
‘Purgatory No Longer’
Oh, what it is to be down with the trend-setters, those who loll around laconically, no doubt pretending to understand Kafka, whilst enjoying the latest blog-approved phenomenon through no-doubt-bespoke earpieces. So far, so Animal Collective / Grizzly Bear. Completing the critics’ trinity of lyrical wax is the Dirty Projectors much-lauded Bitte Orca with its strict avoidance of a tune and peculiar time signatures.
Cue Wild Beasts, who clearly liked what they heard in the Projector’s catalogue, yet thought they could do better by adding some of those elusive tunes. Wild Beasts are eccentric rather than wilfully trendy, the latter merely a handy by-product. The operatic falsetto of their debut, Limbo, Panto, still roams with abandon, but otherwise Two Dancers causes strong bouts of wishing to locate a cocked hat in which to place that debut.
The first part of the title track (it is split (I) and (II), curiously the second part first) is tinglingly atmospheric, taking Wild Beasts’ du-jour drumming and musical laissez-faire and twinning it with menacing gloom, haunting backing vocals and that trademark soprano. Part (I) comes back-to-back with the astonishing ‘We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues’, a more world-beat affair set to hand-drummed funk with the gentlest of Talking Heads influence. ‘All The King’s Men’ is infectious enough alt-pop to resuscitate Humpty Dumpty after his great fall.
These heights are not reached again but that is like trying to blame lesser peaks in a snow-capped mountain range for not being quite as glorious as the centrepiece summit. There is a charming coherency to Two Dancers, the lower octave vocal harmonies support the flamboyant and wobbly lead. The swayingly danceable rhythms flirt with cadent song-craft. Piano, woodblock percussion and theatrical, Hegarty-like dalliances all combine with enviable ease to create a fluidity and sense of natural progression. Two Dancers is so cohesive in fact as to suggest only one.
The XX – XX
‘The Age Of Understatement’
It’s official. Minimalism is the new experimentalism. Out with your complex collectives and in with pure expressionism. This London outfit have two weapons of choice, stripped beats and reverb, as well as the combined clout of their vocalists. The sultry Romy Croft coos throughout and Oliver Sim croons compliantly in velvet soporifics.
Lead and atmospheric single ‘Crystalised’ is but the tip of this frosty iceberg. The echo-y gloom of the economically titled ‘Intro’ is Turn Out The Bright Lights without the theatrics. Its stadium-sized riffs are played at a whisper and the shoebox production only adds to the claustrophobic and dreamy qualities it emits. Australia’s HTRK work with similar influences, theirs focusing more on the industrial, Birthday Party line, The XX seemingly keener on the Cocteau Twins’ ethereality.
The wonderful Womack & Womack cover, ‘Teardrops’ (only available on the special edition), and ‘VCR’ have genuine alt-pop appeal, happy soundtracks to some fuggish slow-dance with a handsome stranger. The latter thinks nothing of again raiding the Dengler catalogue for bass inspiration. ‘Islands,’ along with ‘Basic Space’, plays host to the gentlest of beats-led, urban, R&B influences. ‘Shelter’ is mildly trip-hop-ish, seeing fit to combine that influence with a desire to regress into 90s lounge-pop. Luckily, this doesn’t last long as Croft’s drifting reverb quickly drowns it.
Even The Ronettes famous ‘bm bm chk’ is borrowed and duly perverted on ‘Heart Skipped A Beat’, this before the track segues into the usual guitar work. The relaxed near-electronica of ‘Night Time’ is part Hot Chip’s bespectacled nod (they were school-mates don’t you know) and part Chromatics’ breathy, post-coital meditation and general, frosty cool.
Put to the crucible, there are moments of disinterest that veer The XX away from the cutting edge and into indifference. These threaten a wearisome trajectory rather than the projected rise to stardom, but nevertheless the XX are gently blurring boundaries, showcasing the power of refrain, and introducing the real age of understatement.
Lightning Dust – Infinite Light
‘Black And Blues’
The Black Mountain stable is in full stud. Last year’s excellent outing, In The Future, fought its awesomely-stodgy pysch-rock corner well enough to fend off a deluge of campfire Americana. The Pink Mountaintops chill-outlet is going from strength to strength, culminating in this year’s Spiritualized-sized and alt-country-flecked psychedelic stride.
And now, along come Lightning Dust and their no-Stephen-McBean-to-be-seen return. Amber Webber's quivering and emotive vocal is pitched between her from Arcade Fire and the trembles of him from Brakes, and it duly steals the show. Black Mountain full-timer Joshua Wells completes the happy split.
On Infinite Light, sure, there are splatters of gentle pysch to be found, as can be expected. The debut’s liberal organ returns more sparingly, but like Pink Mountaintops, it is the light Americana sheen which is most appealing. Last year’s surfeit of examples diluted the pool but gave the Mountaineers ideas. Dusting down a well-travelled template, Lightning Dust have learnt that an injection of pop, electric piano, ubiquitous strings and a nod to country blues can make all the difference.
Beneath ‘Wondering What Everyone Knows’ is a waltzing and muffled pop song, at the forefront of ‘The Times’ is the stolen soul of ‘Sympathy For The Devil’. The purposeful and dirge-like march of ‘The Dreamer’ cries with glassy-eyed dignity. Infinite, no, but strong enough to leave a lasting impression, yes, Lightning Dust reassure the listener with the slow-burning squelch and psychedelic sway of album closer, Take It Home’, that the future is still resolutely black.
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