Albums of the week: The Pigeon Detectives to Dear Reader
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah release The Tourist, The Pigeon Detectives present Broken Glances and Dear Reader share Day Fever. We round up the pick of this week’s new releases.
DEAR READER — DAY FEVER
The first album in four years for Berlin-based South African singer-songwriter Cherilyn MacNeil is a marked return to form following 2013’s disappointing Rivonia, in which previous collaborator Darryl Torr’s absence was all too noticeable. With Day Fever, however, it seems Dear Reader is finally thriving as a solo project. MacNeil and producer John Vanderslice have opted for an entirely analogue recording style here, eschewing big effects and recording directly on to tape, and the result is a warm, organic alt-folk album reminiscent of The Beekeeper-era Tori Amos — not only in terms of style and tone, but also in its painfully honest and open lyrics.
CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH — THE TOURIST
Recorded in just a week, Alec Ounsworth’s fifth record as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and his second since his original bandmates bailed, has an urgency and inventiveness about it, but often veers into being a tad whiny. Fireproof smacks of stilted, video-game soundtracking thumping repetitively, while Unfolding Above Celibate Moon (Los Angeles Nursery Rhyme) is as protracted as its title, but once it gets going is full of charm. The Vanity Of Trying, however, shows some consistency — throughout it is pacy and alluring, buzzing with a clamorous yearning. For indie rock it’s got heart, and if on first listen it sounds two-dimensional, listen again — it builds.
JENS LEKMAN — LIFE WILL SEE YOU NOW
Sweden’s Jens Lekman knows how to play live shows, spellbinding, either with a band or solo, but it has been difficult for him to match this intensity in the studio. 2012’s I Know What Love Isn’t employed all the familiar Lekman subjects, but his music’s early creativity, playfulness and humour were sadly absent. After wrestling with writer’s block, his first recordings for this follow-up were binned, and his inventiveness only returned after deciding to record and post a new song online every week for a year. The best of these make up Life Will See You Now. He still occasionally sings in the third person, and Gothenburg is the familiar backdrop to these 10 songs about love and friendship. No longer self-producing, Ewan Pearson makes the smart replacement, giving a renewed sharpness and urgency to the sound, the steel drum-led pop of What’s That Perfume That You Wear? being the most addictive pop he’s done in years.
PETER SILBERMAN — IMPERMANENCE
In the space of seven years, Pete Silberman’s The Antlers morphed from a vehicle for his solo work into something altogether grander, depicted in the transition from the heart-wrenching balladry of 2009’s Kettering to the epic spaced-out jams of Doppelganger on 2014 album Familiars. Following that last album, Silberman suffered an injury which meant severe tinnitus and the loss of hearing in one ear. As a result, his debut solo record strips things way back — all the songs feature little more than his voice and a handful of instruments, and in his own words, Impermanence “traces the stages of healing”. The result is a return to the raw human tenderness of that earlier Antlers work, even if it lacks the emotional punch. Silberman’s melancholic falsetto has always brought comparisons to Jeff Buckley, and that’s all the more pronounced here — particularly in the haunting echo of Karuna, a beguiling opener that sets the tempo for the record. However, the album doesn’t vary much in tone or intensity from there, and initial promise gives way to a pleasant ambience — lilting through the lullaby repetition of Gone Beyond to the final title track that fades out gently, suggesting the process of recovery is still ongoing. And while Antlers fans may delight in having Silberman back, those hoping to be knocked back on their feet will likely be a little disappointed.
THE PIGEON DETECTIVES — BROKEN GLANCES
It’s been a four-year wait — and Broken Glances feels like a continuation of 2013’s We Met At Sea. It definitely doesn’t hark back to the Pigeons’ earlier sound and the masterpieces Wait For Me and Emergency, which were albums loaded with snappy, quick, two-minute tracks. There are glimmers of the Yorkshire band’s former sound in opening tracks Wolves and Lose Control, while Sounding The Alarm is great when it gets going — but it takes far too long to kick in. Elsewhere the album is too slow, with many tracks sounding the same and it’s likely that crowds at upcoming gigs will still be waiting to hear the earlier music, rather than the new.