Whistle Peak - Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls
I like an album which wants to play hide and seek with you. Radiohead used to do it a lot and Elbow’s first album is a great example of it; melody, sound, texture all hidden or unexpected. It’s a bit like a series of lovely ambushes on your ears. It lets you come back to the album again and again, there’s unpicking to be done after all!
I do admit to having a soft spot for a well chosen snippet of noise used behind the melody. Especially in the form of lazy fuzzy guitars which seem to be catapulted from a distance.
To focus on the foreground for a moment (not that there is much of one) the vocals ring through reedy and rough, occasionally pushed through the fuzz of a cracked tube-amp. Again, I must admit a weakness.
The voice sits happily on the cracked-up-indie-voice-scale between Wolf Parade and Tv On The Radio.
There are problems with the album: there is a tendancy to lean on slower, tinkling, plinking and blonking songs (such as “Sailor” and “Land to Land”) - and occasionally this makes the whole thing a little samey. It’s also not something which can be played with a group of friends while banging back a few beers.
It does lend itself to walking home in the cold with your headphone in however, and I certainly like that.
Stand-out tracks are “Hurry Hurry” (a bouncy, fuzzy, stop-start shanty which is the closest thing the album gets to “rocking”) and “Elephant” (a song of silly, beautiful distance).
It’s rare a submission lands with such a satisfying fuzz.