Friday, 27 March 2009

Animal Collective @ Kentish Town Forum 24/3/09

Animal Collective have experienced an unexpected rise to widespread acclaim in recent months. Ninth studio album ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’, released in January, cemented their position at the forefront of a noise-pop avant-garde. True experimentalists in sound, the Baltimore natives have somehow carved a pathway from the periphery of musical innovation to the hype-driven core of ‘cool’.

So long spent underground means that, habitually, Animal Collective play gigs to a hardcore fanbase who know their ‘Sung Tongs’ from their ‘Campfire Songs’, and who, no messing, come to live shows expecting the atmospheric, ear-deafening wig-out that inevitably ensues.

But not tonight. Since the hype surrounding their January release, every alterna-twit in skinny jeans clutching a dog-eared copy of NME has been name-checking Animal Collective as though they’re the passport to a higher plane of societal existence, and the demographic in the Forum tonight makes this all too painfully obvious. Obnoxious indie-brats chat incessantly, take photos on camera phones, josh onlookers on their way to the bar for more orangeade, and generally gawp in bored, ignorant wonderment at a band who, beyond barely recognising the audience’s presence, are almost invisible onstage for the smoke-screened visuals that accompany their set.

The atmosphere suffers as a result, massively detracting from the protracted sonic evolution that Animal Collective apply to each track. There are moments of distended anticipation where Geologist’s bobbing headlamp signals a rhythm-driven detour – when a familiar hook breaks the surface a palpable ecstasy ripples through the crowd, as with the bubbling ‘Brothersport’. The ticker-ticker intro to ‘Fireworks’ seems unending, testing even those of us who know what’s coming, and when that familiar falsetto wail emerges it is quickly absorbed in waves of audio-cacophony that should ignite an all-out rave – and surely would, were the venue and turn-out not so inept.

Meriweather’s big hits, ‘My Girls’ and ‘Summertime Clothes’, are doled out at the very opening of nigh-on two hours, making it clear that this is a show, as ever, raw with artistic intelligence and integrity, rather than one to satiate those whose trend-driven curiosity piqued about a month ago. In short, it’s not a gig for the kids – which is why their dilution of an otherwise superlative performance damages the overall effect to such a degree.

Monday, 23 March 2009

The Kills – Black Balloon EP

Lately Jamie Hince has been getting more tabloid attention as Kate Moss’s accessory than you’d think his habitually elusive nature would sustain, and Allison Mosshart’s been musically flirting with ex-tour mates Jack White and other members of the American-rock elite in hybrid side-project Dead Weather. You’d be forgiven for thinking they’ve been neglecting one another.

With this in mind, the Black Balloon EP comes as a shot of familiar filth in the arm, dispelling any notion that Hince and Mosshart aren’t still at the height of their combined creative powers. Acting as a heavyweight single release rather than genuinely presenting a mini-album of new material, the EP combines a re-release of its title track, taken from last year’s Midnight Boom LP, alternate versions of ‘Kissy Kissy’ and ‘Sour Cherry’, and off pat ingenuity in an acoustic cover of Willy Nelson’s country classic, ‘Crazy’.

Its four tracks linger with an organic undercurrent that sits easy after ‘Crazy’. ‘Kissy Kissy’, which originally appeared on 2003’s ‘Keep On Your Mean Side’, is cleaned out, stripped back to a chugging acoustic blues that makes its forlorn lyric, ‘Lord, I’m not satisfied’, more plaintive than ever. Meanwhile ‘Sour Cherry’ does away with the digitally rendered, hi-fi rhythmic pulse of the album version for the rumble of amplified guitar distortion, becoming infinitely more menacing.

But it’s the cover, ‘Crazy’, that cuts the divide between The Kills and their contemporaries deeper than ever. VV doesn’t make a habit of the sentimental, and when she does it’s in a wilfully abstract haze of drugs and nonsense as in ‘Goodnight, Bad Morning’ or ‘Ticket Man’. ‘Crazy’ is weirdly soulful – disarmingly faithful to genuine romantic misery in a way that the duo rarely embrace. It’s also light-years, stylistically, from The Kills’ profuse preoccupation with dirty garage rock. Essentially, it’s these kinds of detours, and not their personal lives and side-projects, which will define The Kills as a seminal musical pairing given time.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Twisted Licks Presents: My Toys Like Me and Ex Lovers @ Macbeth, 21/3/09

The way I see it, breaking artists can choose to play it one of two ways. Early gigs will be inevitably fraught with the strain of trying to establish and distinguish their particular sonic speciality from the mire of mediocrity on offer nightly, so how does one stick out from the crowd enough to gain that essential early support? It’s a choice between either bursting onto the stage in a set so stylised that it could have come ready-made from the Gaga school of theatrics, or affected nonchalance. The later – playing-it-cool – is as much a fabrication as the former, as in the early days, no band really knows what they’re doing or how to handle it. Which is why some of them choose to dress-up and play-up to hide their nerves. And why some of them don’t.

Right, well now that’s sorted, onto two bands that perfectly illustrate this point, both helpfully condensed onto one line-up by the inimitable wondrousness that is Twisted Licks. My Toys Like Me are first up, taking to the stage in dribs and drabs either for chorographical effect, or because the drummer needed a piss. No one’s looking much further than frontwoman Frances anyway, whose angular electro-funk dancing and bouffant blonde afro dominate the small stage. Her nonsensical lyrics are delivered in child-like murmurs over the acid-pulse of trippy electro beats courtesy of Lazlo Legezer. Lazlo’s production is seamless over the superlative soundsystem of The Macbeth, but there aren’t enough pill-popping electro-kids here to appreciate it, and consequently overblown affections like Frances’s whispered ‘taaaaaa’ at the end of songs just sound a bit silly.

Exlovers try the opposite approach, with heavily nostalgic indie-pop balladry that comforts after the achingly contemporary, angled acid-beats of the support. There’s five of them, presumably not all embroiled in some spider-like network of break-ups and relationships, although you’d be forgiven for thinking frontman Pete and glockenspiel-playing Laurel once dated – they look like two halves. Nobody smiles much, but their melancholy suits the forlorn vocal harmonies and milky-sad melodies that characterise their sound. Recent comparisons to Elliott Smith are misjudged and a bit rich – there’s the wistfulness of The Shins and the lazy swell of quieter Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! suggested at here, but a lot of polishing and tightening to be done before either of these comparisons properly hold water. That said, they’ve only been about for a year or so, so there’s plenty of time. And their nonchalance serves them well in the Macbeth tonight – Exlovers come across humble and wholly likeable, pitching themselves to the crowd perfectly.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Live Review: The Phantom Band @ Hoxton Bar + Grill 12/3/09

Scotland’s best kept secret no longer, The Phantom Band are all set to ascend to the dizzy heights of the bigtime this year. About time, too: this Glaswegian six-piece have been six years in the making, apparently spending their time between rehearsals working on the most convincing display of ginger facial hair this side of Family Ness.

Recently, though, The Phantom Band have been collecting acolytes with enviable rapidity, and tonight they play with the perceptible swagger of a band no longer content to sit on the sidelines. Their music is made to be heard in a live environment – it swells and bulges through the sticky back room in Hoxton, transporting all those present far from their sweaty confines and into the mistiest, most magnificent depths of the Scottish Highlands. Led into the mountains by the pied-piper call of the melodica (bagpipes for times of economic hardship?) in ‘Crocodile’, we are lulled with the sparse sea-shanty hymnal of ‘Island’, before being punched in the gut by the wrenching, distorted riff of ‘Half-Hound’.

All those years masterminding their plan for world domination have endowed The Phantom Band with an obviously refined sonic vision that seems to entail more instruments than your average orchestra, and new ways of playing them, too - although at one point pedal-man Greg Yale looks particularly lost on a banjo, as though he might never have seen one before. Frontman Rick Anthony extends his arms out over the audience in a weird conjouring motion throughout, while most of the rest of the band sport screwed up faces of concentration.

Well they might concentrate, too, as The Phantom Band specialise in distended, proggy Scot-rock that tends not so much to surpass as to shit all over the three-minute mark. With time constraints disregarded, atmospherics and attention to detail are paramount, though they indulge in wonderfully light-hearted touches, including an unexpected barbershop chorus in the anthemic ‘Throwing Bones’. If only one band is predestined to dominate the smaller stages during the coming festival season, The Phantom Band are it.

Clash Magazine: April Album Reviews


This series of reissues will see Cave and The Seeds’ entire back catalogue digitally remastered and remixed with added B-sides and films for the discerning completist. The back story of Australia’s first-man of maverick genius kicks off with 1984’s From Her To Eternity in all its filthy, sacrilegious glory, followed by The Firstborn Is Dead, bloated with Elvis disturbia and lyrical blasphemy. By the time Kicking Against The Pricks was released in 1986 Cave had become the ‘outsider’s outsider’ picked apart by the media for his messianic personality and held aloft for his inimitable, reckless musicianship. It’s only with Your Funeral… My Trial that Cave began to cement his vision into the kind of audibly comprehensive blues manifesto that contemporary contenders can only dream of.


GET 3 SONGS: Wanted Man, From Her To Eternity, I’m Gonna Kill That Woman
DIG IT? DIG DEEPER: Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits, Jerry Lee Lewis


Bat for Lashes multi-instrumentalist Caroline Weeks here steps out of the shadow of Natasha Khan for some experimentalist musings. Songs For Edna is a sparse, delicate, nine-track solo debut that takes lyrical inspiration from the much-overlooked American poetess, Edna St. Vincent Millay. Armed with an oddly-tuned Spanish guitar and the softly-spoken verse of the archetype of pre-war American bohemia, Weeks’ succeeds in creating a record that defies convention in both subject matter and melodic form. Her method works best on the most lyrical of Millay’s poems, as in ‘Renascence’, but falls uncomfortably short in places. Equally, while Weeks’ is evidently enormously musically gifted, the overriding sense of amateurism that accompanies her unsteady vocals tends to detract from the album’s overall effectiveness.


GET 3 SONGS: Renascence, Oh Sleep Forever In The Latmian Cave, Elegy
DIG IT? DIG DEEPER: Essie Jain, Gregory + The Hawk, Blue Roses.


You’ve got to give them credit: Camera Obscura have carved their niche and are sitting pretty. New album ‘My Maudlin Career’, the Glaswegian quintet’s first on 4AD, heralds more of the same heartbroken, up-tempo chamber-pop. This time though, they’ve traded the glitz of the pipe-organ that proliferated on 2006’s Let’s Get Out Of This County for schmaltzy string orchestras and plenty of twinkling tuned-percussion. Traceyanne’s distinctive vocal breathes life into simple lyrics, only losing charm with heavy-handed production that sees her swamped in reverb on the stark melancholy of ‘Other Towns and Other Cities’. Lead single ‘French Navy’ is the inferior cousin of ‘Lloyd I’m Ready…’ but still carries plenty of tinny charisma, bolstered by a brass band and the wholesome clarity of Camera Obscura’s unfailing musical consistency.


GET 3 SONGS: French Navy, You Told A Lie, Honey In The Sun
DIG IT? DIG DEEPER: Belle & Sebastian, Au Revoir Simone, Ra Ra Riot


Immutable anti-folk muso, Jeffery Lewis, returns with his fifth full-length album on Rough Trade. ‘Ere Are I brims with Lewis’ dry, conversational lyrics and friendly three-chord musicality. What shines through, as ever, is the superlative wit with which the humdrumeries of day-to-day life are presented. Even at his most existential, Lewis employs more bathos than your average, at one point comparing life to the common cold on ‘If Life Exists?’ The Junkyards colour an unadventurous musical canvas with much-needed detail, aided by Herman Dune and Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis. There’s the somewhat incongruous inclusion of ‘The Upside Down Cross’ by bassist brother Jack Lewis, but it can’t deter from this unusually consistent long-player from the ultimate anti-hero of naturalist folk.


GET 3 SONGS: Roll Bus Roll, To Be Objectified, Slogans
DIG IT? DIG DEEPER: Adam Green, Diane Cluck, Kimya Dawson




When a Yeah Yeah Yeahs album opens with electro-jitter reminiscent of that ubiquitous Little Boots single you know you’re in trouble. It’s Blitz, contrary to titular promise, is so far from blitzkrieg it feels a bit like betrayal. While the Is Is EP perfected the balance between cohesion and brutality, It’s Blitz is swamped in a mire of wet synths and keys in the Celtic colourations of ‘Skeletons’ or washy new-wave sensibilities of ‘Hysteric’. Previously Nick Zinner underpinned Karen O’s somatic vocal with a heavy dose of brainaching guitar smut; he’s now content to hide behind the keyboard. The darker inflections of ‘Dull Life’ and ‘Shame and Fortune’ touch on past glories, but for the most part It’s Blitz is a trendy aberration of slippery atmospherics – all bark and very little bite.


GET 3 SONGS: Dull Life, Shame and Fortune, Soft Shock
DIG IT? DIG DEEPER: Howling Bells, The Duke Spirit, The Raveonettes

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Clash Magazine's Ones To Watch: Chew Lips

“A couple of micro-Korgs, a couple of really old-school Casios – the kind people used to collect up tokens for – a bass guitar, a laptop and a drum machine…” Tigs could feasibly be listing the instrumental line-up of every band to emerge this side of 2007. With an eighties electro-pop revival in full swing, Chew Lips might look like more of the same trendy synth-obsessed casio-kids, but they would like to beg differently. “We’re an electro-pop act in the form of a rock band, and we want to make classic pop music – music that’s sounds so dated it doesn’t date.”

Chew Lips formed a little less than a year ago from the ashes of various rock and indie bands. “We didn’t know what we wanted to do, but we did know what we didn’t want to do. We knew we didn’t want to be another guitar band in this post-Bloc Party world… so we got instruments we weren’t really used to.” Will and James then worked on perfecting the kind of wonky bleeps and blips that would be just as much at home on an Eddie and Sunshine demo from 1981 as they would on a Metronomy or Hot Chip record from last year. Meanwhile the striking, diminutive figure of Tigs transforms minimal, lo-fi electronica into compact pop songs with the help of her distinctive, soulful vocals. That voice might already be familiar to those of you paying attention – Tigs once guested on the skiffle-blues of The Brute Chorus’ ‘The Cuckoo And The Stolen Heart’.

These days, however, her heart belongs to pop – “if early eighties Prince is pop music, and Scritti Politti is pop music,” she clarifies. Tigs tells me how, by their fifth gig and before they “had one single fan”, they were being approached by those-in-the-know. It was a similar story with French-fashion collective Kitsuné, who put out their first single, ‘Solo’, on 23rd March: “[label founder] Gildas Loaëc e-mailed to ask us what our plan was, and we just replied that our plan was to put out a single on Kitsune, and then he came to London to see us and he was wearing a double denim combo. And we liked the cut of his jeans.”

Having toured with Howling Bells and amassed some sixty to seventy songs, Chew Lips are eager to get into a studio and set to on an album – one that we’re surely going to be hearing a lot of in the coming months. In the meantime though, forget comparisons to the overproduced female pop acts of the hour – Chew Lips are lo-fi DIY electro-pop at its finest.

Unique Fact: Vocalist Tigs’ favourite singer is Karen Carpenter.

Download these tracks: Solo, Twin Galaxies, Salt Air

Sunday, 8 March 2009

School Of Seven Bells Interview

For a front-woman of a scene Brooklyn band, Alejandra Deheza is unusually smiley on stage. The diminutive, raven-haired twin of fellow vocalist Claudia, Alejandra and her grin are almost completely hidden behind a thick black fringe as she executes gilded, frosted dream-pop that could melt an ice-sheet. It’s partly the angular, word-centric phrasing and crystal-clear harmonies of SVIIB that has seen their steady ascension to the realms of one of the must-see-must-hear bands this year. The other half is down to the band themselves – the combination of the beautiful and fascinating twin sisters, and the reputation of Ben Curtis, formerly of American alterna-rock trio Secret Machines. Ben’s reputation is a weighty one, too – when he left Secret Machines in 2007 he even received hate mail from some of the band’s more fanatical fanbase. So has it been worth it? Gigwise spoke to Alejandra about the SVIIB story up to now.

“It couldn’t have gone better, the crowds are really charged,” Ally Dehezra tells me of the early days of their mini-UK tour. The UK dates are followed by some time in Europe, SXSW, and then support slots with Bat For Lashes, White Lies and Black Moth Super Rainbow that will take them through to summer on a relentless and gruelling tour schedule. It’s not a predicament that Ally seems particularly concerned by, though. “Before we’d even thought about recording we were being asked by bands to go on tour,” she says of their early popularity, “so we worked out a lot of music live, in rooms, by hearing ourselves go through the songs every night, and I think it came from the live performance.”

Live, they were able to make the ‘very deliberate’ decision to use a drum machine and pre-recorded electronic bass that makes their songs so effortlessly rhythmic, conveying Ally’s sense that “it’s definitely dance music. People say they like to chill out to it, but personally, I think it’s got really great beats.” The oft-repeated shoegaze tag, then, is a misleading one. “People assign you to something, and that’s totally cool, as long as it’s a genre they love I don’t mind!” Unconcerned as she may be, SVIIB make music born of a slick process so far from the heavily distorted, noise-obscured tendencies of shoegaze that to label them that is to do both the band and the genre a disservice.

Perhaps SVIIB defy categorisation precisely because they eschew it, instead absorbing influences from all directions. “Deheza is a Basque last name,” Ally explains of her heritage, “but we were born in Guatemala, my mother’s Costa Rican and my father’s Parisian, and we grew up in the states since we were 11 months old.” Musically, their backgrounds are similarly diverse, “We don’t just listen to one kind of music, and I think that comes out, but we have our things that we love, like Robert Wyatt, and jazz.”

Certainly for guitarist Ben Curtis, SVIIB marks a huge departure from his previous work with Secret Machines. It was a brave move to walk away from the security of being in a mid-level rock band with a cult underground following, but ultimately, it has paid off. There is something very ‘new’ sounding about SVIIB, and Ally doesn’t speak out of turn when she says “I feel like this record has a really long life, and that people will keep on discovering it: it won’t get old.”

As you’d imagine of a band at the forefront of modernistic pop, SVIIB hail from Brooklyn, today’s creative capital of the states. Back home, they move in artistic circles with the likes of Blonde Redhead, which partly explains why they bagged a recent support slot on the Blonde Redhead tour – something that Ally draws out as a highlight of the past two years. “They’re really great,” she says of the fellow-twin-featuring band, “they really took care of us on the road. Amedeo changed our tail-light when it ran out and Kazu made us this really incredible curry one night, she fed us in the tour bus.” Blonde Redhead is also remixing some of their album, alongside Justin Broadrick from Jesu and Mark Clifford remix.

With debut ‘Alpinisms’ released only last month this side of the pond, it comes as some surprise that School Of Seven Bells are already eager to set to work on a new record. “We want to start recording again in the summer,” Ally says. For the time being though, as they sell out shows in the UK and the US and continually beguile with an angular dream-pop that is all their own, Ally is one cheerful front-woman with a lot to be smiling about.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Breaking Artist: 1877

When Edison premiered the phonograph – the first machine to record sound – in 1877, he could have little handle over its revolutionising effect. Some 250 years later Edison’s precious invention has been prostituted just about every way possible – from the distorted squall of noise-guitars to the fluorescent, saccharine bleep of 2-bit electronica. Everyone’s had a go. But few bands out there seem to have much of a grasp on how take the chewed up results of fifty years of phonographic experimentation and create something genuinely cohesive.

This is where 1877 steps in. Pulsing with pneumatics and the ghost of Ian Curtis in Narcolepsy, or schizophrenically melodic in Conversations In A Cheap Room, 1877 is sonically shot with a thousand bites of musical nostalgia that coalesce in dark corners, in pools of thick aural gloom.

There’s enough of everything here – slices of synth and strange robotic whizzing alongside the fuzz of filthy distortion and clean, reverberating riffs – to remind us that we’ve been spat out the other side of the history of the phonograph, that what remains is to put the shards of what we’ve learned into place to reflect the post-phonographic whole, and deflect the comedown of a million sonic misadventures. Not many bands have the genuine vision for such a task. 1877 is one of the few that do.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

School Of Seven Bells + Kyte + Apache Beat @ Cargo 26/2/09

Yet another band to emerge from Brooklyn’s crowded scene (is there anyone left there not wielding musical aspirations of global proportions?), Apache Beat combine intense, angular post-rock with the razor-sharp vocals of Christina Aceto. At least, they do on record. Tonight in Cargo Apache Beat don’t quite manage to hold their own on a storming line-up that leaves them slightly awash in their own noisy, pompous pop. There’s just too much going on as dreamy synths pull strong guitar riffs apart at the seams, while percussion rains down, powerless to anchor such disparate musical elements. Aceto should dominate on vocal-led songs such as ‘Knives’, but she lacks charisma tonight, at one point meekly dropping the mic at the end of a track in what is obviously intended as a gesture of rock ‘n’ roll recklessness, but ends up looking like a sort of resigned defeatism.

Kyte fare better, but still lack the hypnotic, gilded polish and sonic confidence that they mastered on last year’s eponymous mini-album. This handsome Leicestershire quartet sculpts mesmerising soundscapes, combining dreamy Scandinavian pop and Postal Service’s glitchy electronic clarity. There is some discrepancy between Nick Moon’s recorded vox-vocals, which breathe effortlessly through shimmering synths and icy keyboards, and his live performance, which comes over brasher and more affected as he repeatedly sweeps his hands through his hair, cowering over keys. But this is perhaps to be expected from an act that requires a large amount of pre-recording to render their music live, and their set still holds up in the dark, cavernous venue. It’s the perfect setting for the ecclesiastical beauty of ‘Boundaries’ and the yellow-hued glimmer of the aptly named ‘Sunlight’. As the only UK-based band on the bill, they do our solitary isle proud.

Numbers swell remarkably in Cargo’s dingy underbelly ready for School Of Seven Bells. New York’s darling band of the hour have gone from relative unknowns to one of the most sought-after acts of the year so far with their stunning debut ‘Alpinisms’, and the turn-out reflects this remarkable ascendancy to the dizzy-heights of the trend-setter. Part of the reason for their new-found popularity is their ability to combine modernistic pop sensibilities with infectious, tribal beats. But they also employ a powerful mystique due to the magnetic beauty of twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza and a propensity for abstraction that would come across as pretentious were it not for the fact that they have the musical grounding to merit a bit of ostentation (they list ‘the dialogue with heaven, earth and death’ as their influences on myspace, for example).

On stage Alejandra stands spotlighted in front, grinning like a stage-school protégé as she executes pitch-perfect vocal harmonies with help from sister Claudia. Meanwhile ex-Secret Machines guitarist Benjaman Curtis broods in the back, his face obscured for most of the set. Single ‘iamundernodisguise’, which has received considerable radio airplay in recent weeks, appears early on. Towards the end the tracks become brighter and build in intensity. ‘Half Asleep’ is particularly well-received, revealing some well-versed fans in the cramped audience, where as ‘Chain’ chugs, its syncopated vocals rooted above sliding electronic effects.

School Of Seven Bells radiate with confidence in both sound and style, making them worthy inheritors of hype that would have swamped lesser acts. The trio embark on an almost impossibly hectic touring schedule right through to summer, a season that will surely cement them as one of New York’s most exciting musical exports in 2009.

The Deer Tracks – ‘Aurora’ released 9th March 2009 (Despotzs Records)

Providing the soundtrack to the still clear memory of snow as the first rites of spring begin to glow and bloom, The Deer Tracks emerge from Sweden as worthy competitors in what promises to be a big year for Scandinavian pop music. With new albums from Norwegian’s Royksopp, Denmark’s Veto and Sweden’s own Karin Dreijer, the northern territories are proving a formidable musical force-du-jour, held together by an unrivalled collective propensity to conjour sweeping electronic landscapes of sound.

The Deer Tracks distinguish themselves from their Scandinavian contemporaries by creating music that simultaneously twinkles and crashes, imbued with the deliberate crackle and click of digitally rendered lo-fi affectations. Aurora opens with the seven minute long ‘Yes This Is My Broken Shield’ that sees creeping and clattering atmospherics studded with stuttering ticks and ringing beats. Indecipherable lyrics and an evocative piano loop are obscured by explosions of synths and strings in a climax that overwhelms in intensity, before fading into a brass-led lullaby that demonstrates that The Deer Track’s instrumental abilities stretch beyond the digital realm.

As an album opener, ‘Yes This Is My Broken Shield’ sets the tone for a meandering tour of a unique musical vision, set apart by a conscious reinventing of typical musicality. Unidentifiable sound effects blend seamlessly with orchestral elements throughout Aurora, notably in ‘127 Sexyfra’ with its clarinet and trumpet elements and the tinker of a piano heavy-set in reverb. Meanwhile the stutter and shift of ‘Chrismas Fires’ invokes a childlike window onto a wintry world, and ‘Before The Storm’ is almost Bjork-like, with its spacious brooding vocals over glitchy techno beats.

Comparisons to geographical bedfellows Sigur Ros, Múm and Mew will be hard to eschew for The Deer Tracks as they make ground among their better-established contemporaries. But on the basis of this debut, the Swedish duo are well-deserving of a place among a Scandinavian musical roll-call that consistently sets itself apart from a global climate of mundane and formulaic pop.