Tuesday, 29 March 2011

reviews: tindersticks, vivian girls, little scream

Tindersticks - Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009

Tindersticks - Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009 (****)

Over two decades, Nottingham’s Tindersticks have won hearts and minds with their idiosyncratic brand of brooding elegance, while across the channel, Claire Denis has proven similarly ascendant in her field (named ‘greatest filmmaker of the last decade’ by cine-buffs Sight and Sound). Along the way, they’ve connected, the former providing suitably moody sounds for Nanette et Boni, Trouble Every Day, and Denis’ most recent successes 35 Shots of Rum and White Material.

Some of these soundtracks have been previously unavailable, so the impetus for this collection – which also includes solo scores by Stuart Staples and Dickon Hinchliffe for The Intruder and Vendredi Soir respectively – is undoubtedly sound. Fans of either the auteur or the band will relish the opportunity to explore the fruits of their creative partnership in concentration, though the current price tag will naturally limit its appeal. Then again, seeking out the films themselves is highly recommended.

Out 25th April

The Vivian Girls - Share the Joy

Vivian Girls - Share the Joy (****)

There’s not enough mathematical analysis in music reviews, is there? Shame – a wee bit of number crunching can be insightful. For instance, take the average track lengths of The Vivian Girls albums to date: approximately two minutes on their debut, two and a half on its successor, and now another thirty seconds added on their third.

Seems they’re growing up and out, flexing their song-writing talents further with every release. Get closer, and you discover Share the Joy’s data is skewed by the six-minute outliers that top and tail the album. In a sense, they’re atypical, with Dance (If You Wanna) and Take It As It Comes elsewhere consolidating the charm and fuzz-pop Spector-echoes that have long constituted the band’s sound. But they also reveal a more ambitious side to the Brooklyn trio; cut from the same cloth as their scrappier past, but, to mix metaphors, mining new seams.

Out 11th April

Little Scream - The Golden Record

Little Scream - The Golden Record (****)

Earlier in the year, a free download of The Heron And The Fox gave an early taste of Little Scream’s debut album. Modestly backed by The National’s Aaron Dessner, it felt honest and candid, with lines like “They say anything’s possible but I know that that’s not true, especially when it comes to you,” delivered with palpable sincerity. The Golden Record is a busier affair, with more prominent production on the likes of The Lamb rendering The Heron And The Fox’s simplicity the exception rather than the rule.

Yet that’s never a flaw: Laurel Sprengelmeyer instead fulfils her promise via dissimilar yet complementary pairings like the sepulchral People Is Place and the exuberant Red Hunting Jacket, the latter a tap-shoe away from Tilly and the Wall. In Little Scream’s chosen musical style, the top of 2011’s podium may still belong to PJ Harvey, but The Golden Record can accept silver proudly.

Out 11th April

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