Musical returns are nothing new, bands and artists have oft disappeared for years at a time only to return unexpectedly and triumphantly. Recent years have seen seemingly unlikely reconciliations and re-emergences from the likes of Blur, Suede and many others. Nostalgia TV shows and gigs have proved successful and paved the way for many an act to comeback, even when no-one was calling for it. In these cases there will always be some that are more surprising than others, and some that are more welcome too.
2016, and the last few weeks in particular, seems to have been overloaded with such returns. Some clamoured for, some not; some very exciting, some not so much. For example, Radiohead reappeared with a new album, as well as their now customary reduction of music critics into jibbering messes, forced as they are to live blog a first play just to deliver the hits that keep the advertisers happy. The often rumoured and dreamed of Stone Roses reunion also actually happened, though the decidedly marmite “All For One” may not have been all that was hoped for.
In the last few days in particular there have been three returns that have garnered varying levels of coverage and excitement across the blog world and beyond. These three returns have piqued our interest more than most and have us excited to see what comes next. So we thought we’d take a look at them in a little more detail.
One return we hadn’t expected to see but are absolutely delighted has come about, is that of Pixie Geldof. She’s not been heard musically since early 2013 when she released the utterly divine demo of ”Where The Wild Things Grow” with her band Violet.
It was a remarkable track; gorgeous, stunning and various other superlatives tripped off our tongue while describing it. It made our end of year list and then, nothing. Personal tragedy occurred and while Pixie evidently never stopped writing, retiring from the public eye was to be expected. Now though there is a double A-side set for release this month and a debut solo album, I’m Yours to follow in September.
One of the two tracks shared (both are wonderful) “So Strong”, has bewitched us entirely. Pixie’s vocal sounds in part cold and disinterested and in part sweet and seductive, it glides sublimely over the delicate string arrangement. The melody hangs low, an early morning mist across a bluebell laden forest floor. A barefoot rhythm walking carefully, almost imperceptibly through as the world gently wakes.
It is fragile and beguiling, tender and loving whilst detached and aloof. It is an heavenly return from an artist we are genuinely thrilled to see return. So Young is shaping up to be a must-buy already, not least because the press info also hints at a re-worked “Where The Wild Things Grow” appearing on it.
Pixie’s double A-side single “So Strong” and “Escape Route” will be released on 17 June and ‘So Young’ is due out on 16 September. Both via Stranger Records.
Stalk Pixie Geldof: Twitter
The return that has unquestionably received the most buzz and media coverage this week has come from the much loved and missed The Avalanches. Their debut LP, Since I Left You, is revered and near worshipped in some circles. Some have even questioned if it was too good to follow up. As the years have gone by, a possible follow-up has taken on near mythological status. Like Dre’s Detox it has frequently been rumoured, excitedly whispered about and anticipated but never realised. Until now.
While only two of the original line-up are still involved, “Frankie Sinatra”, the first track to be taken from the fabled second album Wildflower, is brilliantly Avalanchesy. Crazy samples abound as the beat bounces like an oompah band on a trampoline while the guest vocals evoke (appropriately enough) early 2000’s Beastie Boys or Eminem.
The reaction to the track has been largely positive, though there are some who have bemoaned its Gorillaz like playfulness and its supposed lack of ‘relevance’ to 2016. As if a band that people love making music that sounds like the music they made before, that people loved, is a bad thing. Still, we expect these same people decried Daft Punk for not making exactly the same kind of music as before when they came back with Random Access Memories. There’s just no pleasing some people.
We are pleased with it though. It is fun, it is playful, and bouncy and a bit silly but not all music has to be serious and meaningful (we do like that kind of music too). It is worth remembering that “Frontier Psychiatrist” was a bit silly and playful as well and that Since I Left You was still, is still a remarkable triumph.
We are really looking forward to hearing Wildflower and seeing just how good it is.
It was only a few weeks ago that we found ourselves asking, whatever happened to Mononoke? Named after the fabled Studio Ghibli princess, she appeared shrouded in mystery in late 2013 and instantly won the hearts and minds of many a music fan with her magical, ethereal “Alice”.
This was followed up by two more tracks in 2014, “Bones and Glory” and “Barefoot and Broken”, promise was being realised and then, like Pixie, there was nothing. Seemingly, there was no wonder left in paradise as her tracks were removed from Soundcloud and this mysterious girl vanished back down the rabbit hole from whence she came.
In truth, she simply took a step back, feeling she wasn’t ready to move forward and wanting to take her time to get everything right and ready. Now she has returned, “Alice” is alive once more and now with a video (or ‘cinema graph’) and promise of a new EP.
While it is a little disappointing that Mononoke (we can see her face in the videos but we’re still not allowed to share [redacted]’s name) hasn’t immediately come back with the new music; “Alice” has lost none of it’s magic or charm. Tragically beautiful and beguiling it drifts, lilts and delights in equal measure.
New music is coming as well, while another of her previous tracks, “Barefeet and Broken” will appear on the Silence For You EP, so too will a title track and “Graceland”. If they are anywhere near as sublime and gorgeous as their predecessors, this could be a first step on a road to a wonderful adventure for Mononoke.
Header image via notevenathing flickr