With Arctic Monkeys and Thom Yorke favourites for this year's Mercury, I've decided to review new artists Guillemots's debut album, one that for me is better than either of them. (Yes, even The Eraser.) After a few EPs and singles earned the Guillemots a few fans in late 2005, but now have widespread respect after some video and radio airplay, and of course the priveliged Mercury nomination.
The main problem here is inconsistency, it's just so hit-and-miss, for me. There are precisely three fantastic songs on this album: Made Up Lovesong #43, Trains to Brazil, and Sao Paolo. I love all three. The happy little Made Up Lovesong #43 got the publicity, complete with joyous lyrics and lead singer Fyfe Dangerfield's trademark wailing at the climax; and Trains to Brazil's similarly jubilant instrumentality would provoke me to make the comparison "A Happy Arcade Fire." For me, the true musical genius shines through in the epic Sao Paolo, a huge song with a full orchestra, climaxing in the middle with the sort of music that deserves to be screamed from the top of a mountain.
Meanwhile, we get one or two incredibly drab songs. Blue Would Still be Blue may have a nice vocal track... but that's all it is. And a few broken chords played in a staccatoed sound effect. Later, the almost silent And If All thankfully lasts under 80 seconds.
The Björkesque Annie Let's Not Wait is a small joy on this album, as is Through The Windowpane. We do get quite a bit of synth-ey pop backing to Dangerfield's dynamic vocals, creating some catchy little pop songs, but they can so easily bring in a whole orchestra wherever they like. This is the sound of a group commanding the studio and creating their record exactly how they wanted it.
I don't totally love this record, as I've explained. But it has its moments, and certainly shows more brilliance than the generic indie bands of this day and age.
Wikipedia article, Amazon page, a professional review.