Monday, March 27, 2006

Guillemots / From the Cliffs / Rating: 7.4

But even in their most pedestrian turns, Guillemots songs abound with all manner of sublimated sonic chicanery-- kettle whistles, alarm clocks, schoolyard giggles, squeaky bird noises-- suggesting that something far more beguiling is lurking beneath the surface.

What just happened? I was listening to this nice pop record, something decidedly 80’s English with lots of layers and horns (think Elvis Costello with Daryl Hall + Aztec Camera/ later Sciti Politi which moves into Cloud Room, Squeeze, and The Beatles, ) and suddenly the whining begins. I believe this was meant to be moody brooding swelling passion and embarrassingly enough their press one sheet tries to pass this off as “reminiscent of” artists like Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, and Rufus Wainright. Even Pitchfork throws out some heavy hitters like Beta Band, Badly Drawn Boy, The Doves, and Radiohead. Here’s the problem, those bands are all better, like ahead of the creative curve gorgeous and Guillemots aren’t quite there yet. A funny side note is their MySpace page AKA SpySpace mentions Bjork like 4 or 5 times (they are apparently big fans) but this is yet another classic example of how an influence can have nothing to do with what a band sounds like and they might as well list Morris the cat and the Easter Bunny because they are equally as (ir)relevant. I refuse to read the one band sheet any further because if they (the publicity company) dare to insult my intelligence with manipulating popular band names in hopes of paralleling greatness to the Guillemots, their out of their God damned minds. I would say the same about the Pitchfork review but since technically I am reviewing that first and the record second...I will carry on.

Its nearly 9AM, rather early for me and I am already further confused. The press sheet thingy which oddly enough seems to be geared towards bloggers, calls this EP and PFM calls this a major label release.* My Tuning Fork partner in crime Grettir and I have complained / questioned this before, when did a record over 30 minutes long start being dubbed an EP? (From The Cliffs actually clocks in at 40 minutes) No really, why isn’t this thing called a full length? Once upon a time most 80’s pop records called anything over 30 minutes a full length.

Secondly I am not wholly sure what to call a major label record any more. The band’s SpySpace page calls their type of label “indie” while the back of the cd lists The Verve Music Group as the company manufacturing and marketing this record. Websites are vague enough that a half hour on the Fantastic Plastic Records label site didn’t sway me one way or the other. Hmph.

Sorry for the tangent, I know I need to get back to the music at hand but without coffee these questions are taking up more space in the brain and to be honest the music isn’t holding my attention. If this was a really great record I wouldn’t be distracted with boring details like its running time or the fact that I need caffeine. I hope Guillemots singer makes those difficult pitch slides next time around and I am intrigued enough to look forward to whatever they record next. I see a band with potential but no matter what you call this - major or indie, an EP or a full length, it just isn’t something I would call great and a PFM 7.4 rating, like the one sheet, is trying too hard to paint a better than it really is image. Double Hmph.

* I really did stop reading the press sheet. I remembered the use of the term EP from my initial once over.