Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Milagres – Glowing mouth (Memphis Industries)
A debut album of intriguing chamber/art pop, which is a curious but compelling mixture of sombre and upbeat, built around the star-material voice of Kyle Wilson. It’s a voice that bears an uncanny similarity in places to the beautiful tremolo of the fondly-remembered Murray Lightbourne of The Dears; at other times, it reaches for a sensuous, late night falsetto. Whichever, it’s engaging as anything and the catchiest hook on the album (though there are many).
Throughout, the album’s spine of pulsing electric piano lines, shimmering cymbals and self-analytical lyrics might make you think of Grizzly Bear. Particularly, perhaps, during the uplifting crescendo of Gentle beast, or the deep, swirling undertow of the title track. But there’s plenty of variety in tone. The opening song, and first single, Halfway, maintains a lovely spacious quality, among the fizzing keyboards and woodblock percussion. Check also the tremendous slow build of For disposal, the sweetly disorientating guitar melody of Doubted and the fervent, impassioned plea of Gone.
Arrangements are always in the service of the songs (the addition of strings, as well as trumpet, flute and clarinet is very sparing) - delicate but also capable of delivering thrilling moments. In the process, an atmosphere of intrigue hangs in the air throughout. An album with several knockout tunes, it still manages the great trick of revealing its many layers gradually. And with every listen, it’s burrowing deeper under my skin. It’s hard to say what any of us will be listening to next year, but this feels like an album that will stick around. Showing a remarkable poise and maturity for a debut, this is glorious pop music.
*Director Dimitri Simakis picks up on a wonderfully surreal strain, not immediately apparent in the music, in this video for Halfway.