Posts Tagged ‘twee’

I Break Horses – Hearts (Bella Union)

August 19, 2011


“I Break Horses”? Good lord. Ever feel like the well of decent band names has run dry? Still, this Stockholm duo’s English is infinitely better than my Swedish, so maybe that’s worth taking into consideration.

Breaking with their country’s long-running indie tradition of ‘twee’ (for want of a better expression) and powerpop, IBH favour an impressive blend of shoegaze and electro-pop, and the results are pretty interesting. In fact they’re somewhere between Julee Cruise, Jenniferever and M83; familiar dense waves of throbbing, textured electronic noise dripping with sadness and reverb. No need to dredge up those horrible ‘sonic cathedral’ cliches (whoops), but this is definitely the sort of thing that’s going to sound utterlyfuckingphenomenal through beerdrunk ears at live shows. At its best it’s utterly beautiful.

Not every track here’s a winner, but there are certainly no out-and-out stinkers. A pretty promising debut, all-in-all.

I sure hope they tour this record.


Let’s Whisper – ‘The Shortest Days’ (WeePOP!)

April 25, 2011

Ages ago I said that some people had been kind enough to send me records for review, then promptly failed to do that. Having subjected myself to various beatings by way of self-admonishment, I can now get on with the business of saying stuff about pop music.

Let’s Whisper consists of Colin Clary and Dana Kaplan, who double up as members of Burlington, Vermont’s The Smittens. I’d hesitate to use the word ‘twee’ to describe their other band’s sounds because that comes loaded with all kinds of surface signifiers and sneery rubbishness – but if you ignore all that guff, it’s a pretty accurate description of their sound.

I love The Smittens. Their songs are a rush of pure unrefined sugar.¬† They’re daisy garlands and ice creams and sunny days and five-year-olds skipping in the grass and everything inbetween. They do, however, make me feel as though I have to rush out to listen to Slayer, if only to restore some sort of natural order.

So I did wonder if a duo consisting of two of their principle songwriters would be much different. They’re actually a pretty different beast. Albeit still the sort of beast that you can pet, rather than one you’d run away from in terror.

A good deal of The Shortest Days is powered by simple electronic drum beats, and it’s all delightfully melodic. California Girls has a beautifully understated wistfulness to it that most bands just can’t do, whilst pretty much nicking the chorus to one of The Beach Boys’ more sunny moments. It’s lovely stuff. In fact, most of Dana’s songs (notably this, 2 Hours and Jackpot) purr along with this sort of subtle sadness at their root. Colin, meanwhile, offers upbeat numbers like Meet Me On The Dancefloor and more reflective fare such as All Happy Endings.

It’s easy to compare this¬† to The Smittens, because even if the songs are a little less ‘up’, they’re still the same songwriters. But if there’s anyone that this reminds me of most, it’d be The Postal Service. Maybe it’s the way those syn-drums pulse so relentlessly, or maybe it’s the layered trade-off harmonies, but something about this record shapes the vocals and pushes them into Gibbard-esque flakes of loveliness. It works well, in any case.

So this ain’t exactly ‘twee’, although by the same token it’s hardly gonna cause your Isis-loving friends to go ‘woah, these guys rock!’ But that’s the sort of thing that really doesn’t matter either way. What is important is that Let’s Whisper have crafted a gorgeously pop record that doesn’t outstay its welcome, but won’t leave you untouched either. True believers, this is a classic example of bedroom pop transcending its limitations, and becoming musical prettiness personified. It’s limited to 500 copies though, so act fast.

I can see me listening to this a lot this summer.


March 13, 2010

Over a month since the last post… i’m slipping already.

Anyway, fans of cute pop records with boy-girl vocals should be ecstatic to learn that thoroughly ace Liverpool trio Meow Meow have finally released something. I Wonder What Went Wrong is a free download available through top indiepop label WIAIWYA as part of their monthly singles club, and it’s backed by a nifty cover of Go Sailor’s Ray Of Sunshine. Lovely stuff all round, and well worth your perusal. Get it while it’s hot!

Personally, WHTB deeply loves this band. They’re cute as a bug’s ear, instantly loveable and catchy as hell. The sound of pop music falling out of a tree to tell you it loves you, before running back into the woods to hide again.

(As ace as Meow Meow are, it should be noted that Mark also spends a lot of time on the road with Earache thrash-punks SSS and Down And Outs, both of whom are a bit louder but no less awesome).