This highly refined debut album comes from an Oxford boy/girl duo and was mostly recorded at home over a period of 3 to 4 years. It is defined as a work of "dreamy-alternative-synth-folk".
The twelve delicately nuanced songs are all by Nick Tingay and he also plays most of the instruments including glockenspiel, e-bow and "floorboards"!
His voice has a certain Thom Yorkian vulnerability to it and, indeed, the overall atmosphere has echoes of Radiohead at their most fragile and desolate; think Exit Music (For A Film) or Lucky.
Meanwhile, his partner, Lizzy McBain, has a more peripheral role as you might glean from the video to Overlaps where she can be seen reading in the background and discreetly serving Tingay a nice cup of tea.
She does however play a bit of piano and contributes effectively breathy backing vocals, most conspicuously on Pollen a song affirming the wisdom of making hay while the sun still shines.
The imagery in Tingay's songs is overtly poetic and deliberately enigmatic, often based on nautical settings. A preoccupation with the past and the elusive aspects of identity prevail, perhaps best exemplified in Catchpenny Tides, a song inspired by a Seamus Heaney poem and a retro amusement arcade on Southwold Pier.
The writerly world is presented through Veils and Layers. Songs with these titles raise questions about how far we can trust our perceptions: "I saw people where there were none / Saw nothing where there was some" as well as giving voice to the uncertainty of memories by referencing "a faded outline of a faded time").
Wave Is Due is the album's most affecting tune suggesting the kind of heightened romanticism you might encounter in the works of The Bronte Sisters or Thomas Hardy: "Was it you that I saw on the cliff top? / Did you call my name?".
The unashamedly introspective mood of such pieces is broken only for
Creatures Of Your Thoughts, an upbeat song with an oom-pah beat and a first verse sung in French.
Such relative frivolity contrasts with the more representative closing track Fieldwork. which meditates on how we use and preserve language and ends with the singer intoning "Society of word conservation" over and over like a mantra.
This foregrounding of Tingay's literary tendencies is done in a manner that occasionally borders on pretentiousness. He is, for example happy to be described as "devoting himself to his inner musical creatures".
Nevertheless, this should not detract from an impressively surefooted debut evidently made with great care and dedication.
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