Sunday, 4 September 2011

reviews: trips and falls, molly wagger, astrid williamson

Trips and Falls - People Have to Be Told

Trips and Falls - People Have to be Told (****)

Managing Trips and Falls, Preventing Trips and Falls, Avoid Trips and Falls, How to Reduce Trips and Falls… a cursory googling and it appears the whole world’s trying to bring this under-the-radar but ensconced-in-our-hearts Montreal mob down. Consider this review a counter volley: superb debut He Was Such a Quiet Boy was woefully underappreciated, and People Have to Be Told manages to better it.

Opener I’ll Do The Dishes, You Do The Laundry evidences their ear for a good song title, but they’ve more than wit to recommend them. This Is All Going To End Badly is a late stage highlight thanks to the delicious interplay between Jacob Romero’s inimitable croon and Ashleigh Delaye’s lush backing vocals, but picking favourites is impossible. They bob and weave around expectations, but their quirks are never extraneous; they’re too blooming smart for that. Take the album’s message to heart, kids: tell your friends.

Out 26th September

Molly Wagger - Flambeaux

Molly Wagger - Flambeaux (**)

It’s difficult to get a handle on Molly Wagger: an ‘alternative space rock’ outfit signed to a label known predominantly for disco and electronica, the Edinburgh quartet are folky one minute, glitchy the next. The problem with terms like ‘space rock’ is that the acts to which it tends to be assigned – Molly Wagger included – rarely live up to its cosmic promise, their ideas of the future usually rooted in dusty psychedelia.

Flambeaux initially promises a veritable constellation of possibilites, then stocks whole sectors with tired meanderings and sub-Huxley pseud-guff (“I had a dream about a girl with an eye on her forehead” indeed…). But there’s a surface scattering of genuine innovation, coaxed out carefully by producer Sam Annand of Architeq. Opening mini-opus The Weight indicates what they’re capable of when their creative stars align – more like that in future and they’ll really take off.

Out 5th September

Astrid Williamson - Pulse

Astrid Williamson - Pulse (**)

Judging from the level of input he's credited with, Pulse may be more equitably attributed to ‘Leo Abraham and Astrid Williamson’; the former’s influence is apparently key to the top-lined singer-songwriter’s makeover. Abraham has described Williamson’s past work as “knowledgeable” and “literate”, and the word choice is telling; not “passionate” or “inspired”, but something more detached.

Pulse is therefore aptly named, being her first record to exhibit clear signs of life: as inspiration, coach and collaborator, Abrahams has helped Williamson overhaul the functional but frumpy sound of previous releases for something more interesting. Her voice maintains its beguiling lightness (broadly similar to Cat Power’s whisper), but interesting textures now ruffle her compositions (for instance, the Portishead-style industrial percussion that interrupts Husk’s airy atmosphere). Yet, despite the best efforts of all involved, a residual disconnect remains, and only last-minute highlight Paperbacks counters accumulative disinterest.

Out now.

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