Wednesday, 9 May 2012

reviews: french wives, admiral fallow, taffy

French Wives - Dream of the Inbetween (****)

Glasgow five-piece French Wives describe Dreams of the Inbetween as “finally sounding how we always wanted to sound.” It’s how we want them to sound too: big and bold one minute, quietly coaxing you closer the next. They’ve taken their time getting to this point, but the patience has paid off, their increased confidence most apparent on the two re-recordings to make the album: Halloween cuts to the chase quicker, and consequently brings a greater impact; while Me Vs. Me slows a beat, slices off the ending, and surrenders its choppiness to unlock the song’s previously-compromised potential.

Throughout, tracks mesh satisfyingly, with motifs weaving through the record: The Inbetween, for instance, picks up on the melodies of preceding track Back Breaker while simultaneously foreshadowing Younger’s refrain, creating a rewarding sense of cohesion. Elsewhere in the same song, Stuart Dougan sings “it’s not a masterpiece / you will discover this.” Perhaps not, but it’ll do nicely.

Out Now

Admiral Fallow - Tree Bursts in Snow (***)

Admiral Fallow are a success story to warm the most jaded of hearts, their measured ascent possessing the kind of slow-burn, grass-roots momentum that can’t help but cheer those observing from below. Tree Bursts in Snow is a safely (but assuredly) judged next step, with a bid for the major leagues polish that ingrains some pedestrian elements, but otherwise brings out the best in them.

Louis’s lyrics continue to embrace a populist sentiment built for communal choruses, with The Way You Were Raised, for instance, anthemic in both message (onwards and upwards) and delivery (Springsteen via Auld Reekie). Elsewhere, key words include ‘conquer’ and ‘courage’, suggesting a band unafraid of aspirational urges. Musical affinities with Frightened Rabbit remain, and there’s a strong chance that the oft-remarked-upon stylistic comparisons will translate into similarities in success. When you consider the FRabbits’ profile leap from Sing the Greys to Midnight Organ Fight, Admiral Fallow’s triumphs seem set to snowball.

Out 21st May

Taffy - Caramel Sunset

Taffy - Caramel Sunset (***)

In the UK, Britpop’s spectre – not Pulp or Blur, but the bread and butter bands that once padded out Shine compilations – has kept a penitently low profile of late, with recent home-grown nostalgia hits chiefly inspired by the shoegazing late-eighties or alt-rock early-nineties (not that we’re complaining – the appeal of fuzzy guitars and sugary choruses of any vintage is ever-strong round our way).

Japan’s Taffy, by comparison, have a crush on the period’s produce and no qualms about showing it, creating an album with instant appeal that suggests it sometimes takes an outside perspective to pinpoint what makes a genre click. They pay particular tribute to female-fronted acts like Sleeper and Echobelly, with the chords of opener Between making a slight return to It Girl aesthetics, while So Long rinses great things in Iris’s candied vocals. Punkas at heart, Taffy are retrograde and proud; old-fashioned yet, somehow, never passé.

Out Now

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