March 27, 2006

CD Review: Guillemots - From the Cliffs

This is another one of those bands that I had never heard of prior to it arriving on my doorstep. And, to be honest, if it hadn't appeared there, I probably would never heard of them in my life, much listen to them. Their sound does not travel in the circles of what is normally circling the CD changer. They are an indie rock act from London whose sound is a rather free form combination of various styles. I am not terribly well versed in this style of music, but after listening to it a few times feel compelled to put down some thoughts.

This release, so I have read, is a combination of previous releases. So, for you fans, there is nothing new here, but for the rest of the unknowing masses, such as myself, this should get you up to speed rather quickly.

Guillemots is a band of atmospherics and improvisation. The music are layers of different elements, the background to the foreground, each layer building on the one beneath it, each retaining focus on the build of the song. There are strings and keys and random samples, all building an intricately structured sound. Not content to work within the standard structure of verse, chorus, verse, primary songwriter, Fyfe Dangerfield, leads the listener along a journey that I find similar to being adrift at sea. No, I've never been adrift at sea, but the way the music comes across in waves, lulling the audience and drawing them into a hypnotic state, I find similar to the thought of drifting in the water, gliding lazily along.

Experimental, that would probably be the best way to describe it. A combination of pop, jazz, and soul, in the guise of a rock act. The combination is an easy listen, something that is accessible to all audiences, yet intelligent enough not to come off as a mere copy of a similar band, or appear as if they are trying to hard to be original. The album has a nice flow, although I cannot deny that I did get somewhat bored once in awhile. I think the boredom stems more from my penchant for the metal styles than it is a statement of quality.

The highlight of From the Cliffs would have to be "Trains to Brazil." The song is 4 minutes of uplifting rhythm, a likable pop confection that stands apart from the usual songs that get radio play. That is followed up by "Made Up Lovesong '43" a light song that will put you under its charms. Then of course there is the excellent "Who Left the Lights Off, Baby?" Another entering journey in an easy to digest package.

Bottomline. I cannot say that this will get regular play, but I was surprised at how infectious it really was. One listen provided me with an "eh" reaction, some interesting moments, but numerous other dull moments. Multiple listens changed that reaction to something more like "this is actually pretty good." For those metal fans out there, stay away from this, but for those looking for something unique in the, I guess, adult contemporary style, this will fill the bill nicely.

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