Tuesday, 12 October 2010

reviews: glasser, kurt wagner and cortney tidwell present kort, fenech-soler

Glasser - Ring (****)

Glasser is Cameron Mesirow, a precociously gifted songwriter who, in crude splicing terms, evokes a Bat For Lashes/Dirty Projectors love affair on her revelatory debut album. Mesirow has both musical and intellectual ambition, with Ring named for its supposedly ‘chiastic’ (that’s fancy-talk for ‘ring’) structure – a literary technique Mesirow encountered in reading Homer in which ideas are symmetrical and reversible, leading “bi-directionally toward a central idea.”

The phrase has an air of undergraduate pretence, and having messed with the album’s sequence a number of times, these ears aren't convinced the concept’s been carried through particularly thoroughly – though as the fifth of nine tracks, T makes a splendidly crystalline central hub. But the actual music proves an odyssey of riches, deeply layered and baroque throughout. To offer Glasser her own chiastic epithet (well antimetabolic epithet technically, but let’s not quibble), the marvellous Ring rings in marvels.

Out Now

Kurt Wagner & Cortney Tidwell Present Kort - Invariable Heartache (****)

As musical partnerships go, Kurts and Cortneys go together less like a horse and carriage than a horse and a grunge Yoko prone to worrying Twitter-spasms. Well no more: Kort represents a happier alternative: a honey-coated tribute to ye olde country and western, courtesy of Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner, solo chanteuse Cortney Tidwell and lashings of slide guitar and whiskey-pickled heartbreak. Tidwell employs her fine pipes in an appropriately conventional Americana style, but it’s Wagner’s idiosyncratic croon that steals the show. The album opens with his unadorned voice, echoing his day-job’s finest hour (2000’s Nixon, ushered in with similarly intimate fashion), while his precise enunciation of the lyric “little bitty tear” – all crisp consonants and debonair delivery – sounds slightly silly yet utterly charming. For every track straying too close to caricature there are a dozen moments of pleasure, making Invariable Heartache both a note-perfect tribute and self-contained delight.

Out 18th October

Fenech-Soler - Fenech-Soler - album cover

Fenech-Soler - Fenech-Soler (***)

Fenech-Soler have been attracting moderate buzz for quite some time, with recent single Stop & Stare thus far their closest pitch for the mainstream. Their eponymous debut offers nine more in a similar vein, with the likes of Lies sounding locked, loaded, and expectantly awaiting adoration. This is calculated stuff: shiny and exciting, with a retro ripple and hooks in spades. At times it sound a little too polished and plastic, like a boy-band take on Justice. But if there’s one thing the Peterborough four-piece have perfected in their years together, it’s the ability to write music that bypasses critical faculties; climbing into the listener and triggering twitching to their direct (if occasionally inane) pop skills. They offer electro-anthems with personality, just not necessarily a personality that everyone will warm to. But if you’re partial to the likes of Delphic and Cut Copy, Fenech-Soler’s flair makes them worth investigation.

Out Now

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