Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2007: Number 30

One step forward and they'd all be off the sheer drop

On the surface of it there's something almost too ethereal about the three New York women that make up Au Revoir Simone, from that front cover shot to the wind chimes and piano over simple synth line that makes up more than half of The Bird Of Music's opening track The Lucky One. That opener's wistfully cheery minimal keyboards over three part homily harmonies is a red herring, though, as the overall impression of the album is that of a trio who aren't averse to being away with the fairies but at heart are more rooted in femininity and glacial beauty, something like the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle acting as svengali to a My First Electrelane. And aside from all that art, this is just a great, deceptively simple pop record.

In fact, just skip that first track if you want a full impression of what they do, as the scene is better set by the two tracks that follow it, Sad Song running on programmed pulses of vintage synth and drum machine, followed by Fallen Snow sketching out crossthreaded textural beauty while whichever one of Erika, Annie and Heather it is recounts that "nothing hurts like seeing you hurt like me". They do the 80s synth sounds better than a lot of bands who claim to specialise in it on I Couldn't Sleep, Dark Halls and Night Majestic, the latter of which are set straight for the school dancehall direct from the Go-Gos/Waitresses playbook. Stars comes on like a junior Postal Service, while Lark's gradually fuzzed out sound and the Young Marble Giants-recalling The Way To There, which also employs a string section, prove there's a sophistication that belies their otherworldly imagery. Throughout the aura is of a dreamy warmth that evokes St Etienne's retro dancefloor stylings or Tilly & The Wall with a moog or two. Too clever for twee, too uplifting for electronica, its awkward hope, love and loss matched by the textural quintessence.

LISTEN ON: A Violent Yet Flammable World
WATCH ON: Sad Song

**

My favourite album of 2007 is...

Au Revoir Simone:
Annie: Oh No! Oh My! - Oh No! Oh My!
Erika: Lavender Diamond - Imagine Our Love
Heather: Dirty Projectors - Rise Above

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