posted on June 10, 2009 19:00
A review of the album 'Here Come The Vikings' by Astrid Williamson
Review Snapshot: One glorious lyric aside, a record of chugging ones, epic ones, book-smart lyrics and all the regulars of indie-by-numbers. You’re a busy person with other records to hear and other things to do, so this needn’t detain you.
The Cluas Verdict? 5 out of 10
The fourth solo album by former Goya Dress singer Astrid Williamson is more plugged-in and amped-up than her previous records. Unfortunately, while for her this might be a grand creative leap, for the listener ‘Here Come The Vikings’ is mid-table indie-rock of the sort you’ve heard many times before.
To be fair, there are brief flashes of personality on show here. When she rocks out, like on opening ‘Store’, Williamson has a strong and soaring voice similar to ‘The Lion And The Cobra’-era Sinead O’Connor. But a lot of the uptempo tracks here are unoriginal and unimaginative chuggernauts, while slower numbers like ‘Crashing Minis’ and ‘Pinned’ strain themselves to sound like epic heartstring-tuggers.
The blandness of the music is reflected in the lyrics, which mostly have a sense of being all craft and no feeling. The poppy ‘Sing The Body Electric’ shoehorns in fairly arbitrary references to Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Walt Whitman, as if Williamson desperately wants us to know that she knows who they are. And then at the other extreme, ‘Falling Down’ features the anodyne ‘insight’ and uninspired clichés of your average Celine Dion or Bon Jovi hit: “They say a little information/Can be a dangerous thing… Love is all we need/Why do we keep on falling down?”
At least ‘Shut Your Mouth’ features an innuendo-drenched couplet that even Cole Porter would have envied: “Please forgive my pursuit of you/But I have to get to the root of you.” (Keeping in that spirit, our spellcheck wants us to change Astrid’s first name to ‘Astride’.)
But apart from that tantalising flash of invention, there’s nothing new or memorable about this record. You couldn’t imagine real Vikings coming and going so unremarkably.