Fleet Foxes – Sun Giant [EP]
A mostly harmless EP by one of the most harmless bands the indiesphere has ever seen; if it weren’t for their harmonies, most of this would fall over with the slightest push. I mean, that’s all “Sun Giant” (billowing vocals and nothing else) and “English House” are, really (compare the latter to Grizzly Bear’s “Easier”), and the lack of them is why “Innocent Son” is kind of annoying (bellowing vocals and nothing else) and why when their drummer decided to go solo in 2012, it was predictably shit (but don’t worry, he’s book-smart or something). “Mykonos” is clearly the draw here, predicting their more ambitious song structures on Helplessness Blues: the song structure basically undergoes a controlled climax over 2 minutes, slows down for 30 seconds and then enters an even better and louder climax of what sounds like a completely different song (before slowing down again). Singer sounds remarkably like Andrew Bird during the first half, and that’s all I got on this one.
Goldfrapp – Seventh Tree
Forever the singles artist, and of the 4 (!!!) singles this thing spawned, I admit that I’ve spun 2 of them quite a lot (in the hellhole that was 2008, we take what we can get). “Clowns” is the first, in part because she recalls Nico pronouncing “Clowns” similarly on “Femme Fatale” but more importantly, for Alison’s vocal acrobatics – it’s like hearing the sun and clouds come out. The other is “A&E,” because every line is either memorable (ie. the falsetto-ed “high” in the bridge, or the heart-snapping indication that she only wants you because she’s overdosing on pills – bet you missed that, didn’t you?) or a melody, and often both, actually (which is odd because most of the other songs here barely have one distinct melody, let alone three). And “Caravan Girl” is also appreciable for its solid hook, for being a breath of fresh air on a mostly sleepy record and most importantly, for being smartly arranged. On that point, check out the last single “Happiness”’s clunky, clunky rhythm starting at the 1:20 mark (otherwise just a Beatles re-write), or the string blasts of “Cologne Cerrone Houdini” that aim for poignancy and land in theatre. “Some People”’s lyrics are gag-worthy and I swear “Road to Somewhere” is a re-write of another song here; the other songs here are all boring instead of bad, even though “Little Bird” and “Eat Yourself” paddle slowly towards their noticeable crescendos (the latter has a really cool bass burst and then the song just ends).
I’ve seen Goldfrapp often get compared to Portishead (“beatless Portishead” as it were), and it would be too easy to compare them again as they both released albums in 2008 that didn’t sound like their previous works (and even Third has one folk song on it), but it didn’t make much sense in the first place. Even more bewilderingly, I’ve seen this record compared to calm Cocteau Twins records (specifically Victorialand). Euh? Like I guess most of the vocals are unintelligible? As a result, I really did try hard not to compare this to anything but when I got to the drug reference on “A&E”, I couldn’t shake Regina Spektor’s Begin to Hope out of my head (which referenced drugs on “That Time”, albeit much more clumsily). Both are singles artists, except Regina Spektor’s best songs from that album tower over this one and yet, I still hear Goldfrapp mentioned in some circles and Spektor never. Indie cred, man, indie cred.
Her Sea Change.
Mount Eerie – Lost Wisdom
Mostly anemic nonsense, though “What do I want with my life now you’re gone? I want your ghost gone” is a great, great lyric. These ten ditties are like listening to ten of the weaker, shorter songs off The Glow Pt. 2, an album that worked because of the quality of the sheer quantity of songs – it was a trip. This one’s 25 minutes, and isn’t. And y’know: The Glow Pt. 2 had the benefit of its opening triptych. This one doesn’t. Selling point: it has Julie Doiron (of Eric’s Trip, one of Phil Elvrum’s favorite bands) to provide vocal harmonies. Counterpoint: Eric’s Trip sucked.