Tag Archives: kitsuné

Two Door Cinema Club: Tourist History – Album Review

1 Mar

OK, so let me preface this entire piece with the admission that yes, I was pretty darn excited about getting my hands on Tourist History. From the snapshots I had heard and the general buzz about Two Door Cinema Club everything was pointing towards great great things. When weighed up against that kind of expectation it is always likely that the realisation will fall some way short and leave you disappointed. So which way does Tourist History fall? Does it live up to the hype or does it leave you disappointed?

Well, neither really. It’s fair to say that the hype outweighs the product but at the same time I didn’t really feel I’d been short-changed or wanting more. Though if I’m honest, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting either. Having been picked up by Kitsuné and having produced a fair amount of decent remixes for other people in the last few months I was expecting a greater emphasis on the dance side rather than the indie-style that is very much to the fore instead. That said, “I Can Talk” is a great upbeat, floor filler which is reminiscent of Hot Chip’s “Ready for the Floor”.

The only real issue with Tourist History though is that while each track is good, they all sound a bit alike. On more than one occasion I had to double check that I hadn’t accidentally hit repeat on my iPod, so similar are some of the introductions to each song. But as I say, each song is good at the very least and the album does stand up to repeat listening in a short period of time.

The whole album is shamelessly upbeat from the very opening bars of “Cigarettes In The Theatre” all the way through to “You’re Not Stubborn” less than 35 minutes later. Short, sharp indie-pop songs, all of which clock in at less than 4 minutes, Tourist History shoots along at a breakneck speed, barely letting you pause for breath. Full of catchy riffs and hooks, I found tracks like, “This Is The Life”, “Something Good Can Work” and “I Can Talk” bouncing round my head long after I’d stopped listening to the album. In fact, I’d say that triumvirate of songs, one after the other, is the high watermark of the whole CD. “Undercover Martyn” which follows these three is great too, but these are, for me, the standout tracks.

I’ve read elsewhere that they have been likened to Bloc Party and even early Radiohead but I’m not convinced myself. There’s an element of fun in Two Door Cinema Club that isn’t always present in these two groups. That said, there is evidence that both and other indie artists have influenced the tracks on Tourist History, I even thought I heard some Bluetones in there (on “This Is The Life”) and for some reason I can even hear the ‘Danger Mouse’ theme in “What You Know”. Says all you need to know about me really :)

I really liked Tourist History and if you’re a fan of upbeat indie-pop I strongly recommend giving it a go. I’ve stuck the CD in the car for the drive to work in the mornings to help get the energies flowing (it sounds even better in the car) and my eyes are well and truly peeled for upcoming gigs as I imagine they would be fantastic live. All in all, a strong, energetic, positive and hugely enjoyable debut which you’ll appreciate even more if you’ve managed to stay clear of the hype Two Door Cinema Club have generated already.

Chew Lips – Unicorn review

24 Jan

I’m not sure where I first heard of Chew Lips. Having gathered the names of a number of new bands for the purpose of this challenge in a relatively short space of time I genuinely can’t remember where I found out about them all. All I’m sure of is I needed a ‘C’ and Chew Lips appeared to be getting some buzz for 2010 so, without knowing anything about their sound, onto the list they went.

Obviously, with the premise of this whole challenge being about finding new bands, I hadn’t previously come across debut singles Solo and Salt Air. As such I couldn’t really pass judgement on whether they are either ‘supremely confident or reckless’ as suggested by Q Magazine in their album review (Q283). What I can say is with tracks like Toro, Karen, Play Together, Slick and Eight I’m leaning heavily towards ‘supremely confident’ and justifiably so.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is album of the year material (or even album of the month, hey, it’s been a very strong month) but this is more than just a solid debut. Seemingly channelling both Karen O and Beth Orton singer Tigs’ voice has a wistful, sometime ethereal quality to it. This is particularly evident in closing track, Piano Song, which is almost A Capella with nothing but (unsurprisingly) a simple piano track with occasional electronic whirring underscoring the lyrics.

In fact, given the energy showcased in Solo and Salt Air, it’s a little surprising just how understated Unicorn is as an album. They’ve been described as minimalist electronica and I can see why; certainly the sometimes-delicate arrangements seem designed to showcase the lyrics and Tigs’ vocals. That said, there is still plenty here to get excited about and that you’ll find running through your brain hours after listening.

Unicorn is beautifully crafted, opening with the hauntingly melancholic Eight before upping the tempo into Play Together (the first single from the album) and Slick. Karen is the sort of track that sits on radio play-lists for ages and, along with Toro, shows that La Roux are not the only ones who can do intelligent, chart friendly electric pop.

As an aside, how achingly cool is the Kitsuné label? La Roux, Delphic, Two Door Cinema Club, Ficherspooner, Autokratz and now Chew Lips. Talk about tapping into the zeitgeist.

As a whole though Unicorn is more eloquent than some of Chew Lips’ contemporaries and whilst many try to create the ultimate floor-filler, this is much more of a Sunday morning, post club album. Upbeat enough to hark back to the previous nights festivities, subtle and melodic enough to nurse even the sorest of heads. Besides, you want floor-fillers? That’s what remixes are for.

Still you can’t help feeling something is missing. It’s not the length (though 33 minutes is somewhat on the short side) and as I say the album is beautifully crafted, each track complimenting each other as you journey through from Eight to closer Piano Song. Perhaps the idea was to take a relatively simple approach or maybe Unicorn is designed to leave us all wanting more. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing what Chew Lips do next, so if that is the case, job done.

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