Popular music that’s doused in a little darkness, giving it a mature edge, or an alternative feel, washes over our palates much easier than the more common saccharin kind. Fond readers of The Recommender will kindly recall the likes of The Good Natured, Nedry, or the even darker Emika, but they’re all respectively born from paths previously trodden by Bat For Lashes, Bjork or Portishead. They in turn have the likes of Kate Bush, P J Harvey and Liz Fraser to thank, so you see it’s been a genetic bloodline for some time now and almost every one of them are fucking marvelous.
Paper Crows arrive to greet you at the very next junction, with their song Stand Alight, which begins much in the same way ‘You‘ did on Radiohead’s debut album – namely with some pretty acoustic plucking, before removing the sense of security like a showman removes a table cloth with the crockery remaining.
You surge from light to dark in the flick of a switch, as the fuzzing beats and walloping synthetic bassline introduce you to Emma Panas’ ghostly voice. It’s as unsettling as it is alluring and you start to realise that the next generation are here to haunt the shit out of you. It’s been a while since pop has been this dark and this enjoyable at the same time. This multidimensional music is like a dramatic Victorian stageshow, where the lead actors whip off their masks to reveal robots ready to kill. This initial debut single, which was released last week on the Future Cut label, even has a breakdown three minutes into it that seems like someones pulled the plug out of the ballad. Beat that Meatloaf!
The other half of this London duo is completed by Duncan McDougall who backs the stunning vocals with a little piano, a little electricity and lots of show, which is further evidenced on their song Homebound, which is softer, but equally as poetic and atmospheric.
They’ve also covered the Kate Bush classic, Cloudbusting, which says everything about their desire to marry theatrical pop with a contrast of shade, although I doubt they studied much about Wilhelm Reich, (the songs subject matter). We hope that modern artists put just as much effort into searching out intellectual inspirations, as they do on pitching things right. They may well be dreaming of “Orgonon“, but on the early evidence on show here – and once the rest of the country gets to switch the lights on – we’re positive they will in fact wake up smiling. (MB)