Stars in Battledress – Fluent English (from the album In droplet form, Believer’s Roast)
Brothers James and Richard Larcombe, who make up Stars in Battledress, take elements of folk music, English music hall, classical and minimalism to make an adventurous pop brand all their own.
Sharing vintage keys and guitars, they flit from uplifting to sinister to primal at the drop of a hat. James plays with North Sea Radio Orchestra and William D Drake (also Craig Fortnam, see this review) and those groups would give a fair idea of the kind of richness of melody and innovative song structures you can expect here.
It ends up as quixotic as Van Dyke Parks, with something too of the heartfelt restlessness of Apple Venus-era XTC.
The latter is certainly present in my own personal favourite, ‘Fluent English’, a plangent piano tune with a panoramic melody and an intellectual lyrical sweep.
*I also love the Wicker Man-esque ‘Hunt the button’ and the scathing ‘Buy one now’, an antidote to consumerism in the cunning guise of an advertising jingle.
'Fluent English' is Track 11 in this playlist, almost 41 minutes in