The second full length album from this Edinburgh-based band takes them in bold new directions without abandoning the geeky radge-rock that graced their previous releases.
The band’s identity is still defined by singer and main songwriter Sophie Dodds but changes in the band line-up have broadened the overall sound to build upon their baroque pop roots.
Dodds’ partner Reuben Taylor is still present on accordion, analogue synths and “anything with keys” but a permanent move from London to Edinburgh led to the recruitment of three brand new members -Willa Bews (bass),Jon Bews(fiddle) and Alberto Bravo (drums).
This ‘new’ band also has a more international flavour – the Bews are from Vermont while Bravo is from Madrid. And these musicians are not just there to make up the numbers. Willa Bews even wrote two of the songs: Ancient Goldfish and Paintbox Ladies.
In musical terms the album is a leap forward with some strikingly beautiful arrangements and consistently strong melodies. In a varied set of tunes the tone lurches between wistful and whimsical to rowdy and raging.
The gentler strand of the record includes The Magician and The Orchid. Both are delicately poised pieces that illustrate how Sophie Dodds’ songwriting has grown and matured.
If I Were A Seagull has hints of traditional folk but the wild dinosaur fantasy elements of Fractal Pterodactyl ensures that the album’s overall mood is thoroughly modern.
It’s great fun too! The opening track Clive is an ode to a cheese plant (Monstera Deliciosa) who is also the album’s cover star. The plant serves as a metaphor for a lover who the singer can’t quite bring herself to abandon “You’re not just alive – somehow you have thrived”.
On a slightly more serious note, this subject fits in with the album’s underlying theme of domestic horror that contrasts with the open spaces explored on the band’s excellent debut album ‘Snow, Stars And Public Transport’.
Some ideas and imagery were inspired by the third season of Twin Peaks since, as Dodds relates, the Lynchian atmosphere “chimes with my experience of the home as the best and the worst place in the world, and the terrible things that lurk under repressed, middle-class ideals”
A raunchy streak is also evident in Lovely White Sofa where, in coffee shops and hipster bars, “we pet our neuroses till they curl up”. The band’s penchant for tongue-in-cheek wit also shines brightly in the self-deprecating Gloriously Organised Demise.
None of this quite prepares the listener for the shock of the closing track -Give Me My Fucking Puppy You Bastard - in which Dodds’ manages to sound comical, unhinged and genuinely scary.
The bluntness of this finale savages the convention of keeping up appearances for the sake of decorum. It serves to hammer home the point that, despite the homely settings of most songs on this album, outspoken sentiments triumph gloriously over politeness and restraint.