Friday, 30 March 2012

reviews: liz green, pinkunoizu, lightships

Liz Green - O, Devotion!

Liz Green - O, Devotion! (***)

It’s been five years since Liz Green’s debut single, but the belated arrival of album O, Devotion! has only sharpened her talents. Bad Medicine reappears here with a facelift, and it’s comfortably the superior version: interim touring has softened Green’s vocal affections, while the introduction of moody brass adds new depth. O, Devotion! was recorded at Toerag, the all-analogue studio previously favoured by acts including Billy Childish and The White Stripes – appropriate, since, like both the aforementioned,

Green has an ingrained predilection for musical antiquity. She takes inspiration from traditions ranging from Dixieland jazz to Weimar cabaret, and Liam Watson’s sympathetically simple production plays to her strengths. But while Green’s signature sound is evocative, it lacks variety: forlorn finale Gallows should be a highlight, but by the time it arrives, interest has been deadened by a creeping monotony. Should she introduce greater diversity next time, Green could well achieve something remarkable.

Out Now

Pinkunoizu – Free Time!

Pinkunoizu - Free Time! (****)

Though based in Copenhagan, Pinkunoizu foreground multicultural aspirations via a Japanese name (‘pink noise’) and lyrical references to the Arab Spring. Their capacity for pretentiousness is pushed higher by chief songwriter Andreas Pallisgaard’s high-falutin’ talk of “the most incomprehensible mysteries of being,” and woolly lyrics noting “endless loops of American troops.” Cyborg Manifesto, meanwhile, bumps feminist credentials into the liberal-minded melting pot, just to really hammer home the breadth and depth of their cultural horizons – a recipe for eye-rolling if ever there was one.

Yet while some of their longer pieces might test the patience, there’s always some element in the mix to refocus attention – in The Abyss, for example, the extended guitar solo that awakens four minutes in; in Death is Not a Lover, some rather odd Gregorian chants. That they accommodate their diverse reference points so effortlessly merits an ovation, their layered jams producing exotic results from colourful influences.

Out Now

Lightships - Electric Cables

Lightships - Electric Cables (****)

Most Teenage Fanclub albums contain at least one standout penned by bass player Gerard Love: Star Sign, Sparky’s Dream, Ain’t That Enough, I Need Direction – you get the idea. But with three other Midas-fingered songsmiths competing for space on each, it’s unsurprising that records like Electric Cables exist as outlets to let off excess songwriting steam. Love captains Lightships with a delicate touch, assisted by a congenial crew that includes erstwhile Fanclub drummer Brendan O’Hare and Bob Kildea of Belle and Sebastian, and the results are suitably transportive.

On initial listen, opener Two Lines seems almost too vaporous and airy for its own good. But as subsequent tracks whisk the mind away to carefree summer days via languorous guitar tones and dainty flute melodies (courtesy of Tom Crossley of The Pastels), the haziness falls into heavenly focus. A fine collection of Love songs, beckoning repeated, lingering visits.

Out 2nd April

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