The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


A review of the album 'Playing out: Songs for children and robots' by The Crayonettes.

Crayonettes - Playing out: Songs for children and robotsReview snapshot: Former punk queen Anna Spencer and folk singer Kathryn Williams combine their hatred towards CDs for children to make an interesting first adult-friendly and intelligent album aimed at kids.

Cluas Verdict?: 7 out of 10.

Full Review: The Crayonettes is the union of popular folk songstress Kathryn Williams and lead singer of Newcastle Punk band, “Delicate Vomit”, Anna Spencer. The concept of the album is just as endearing as the actual songs.

The two music veterans have relatively recently become mothers and discovered a mutual disdain for the common and fervent Children’s CDs. They wanted to produce an adult friendly children’s album to create a blissful haven for the tortured ears of mothers and fathers. Each track on the album is aimed at children while maintaining a bearable tune, covering the usual topics, questions about animals, opposites, and hopscotch.  What is most charming about the quaint album is the fact that each song was played to the artists’ sons for their approval, so each and every track comes with the recommendation of a 3 and 4 year old.

The most pleasurable is “Disco Teeth”, a song the pair describe as “The Small Faces brushing their teeth”; it’s an alternative version of the much revisited “brushing your teeth is great” mantra that so many children’s CDs churn out. This time however the message is accompanied by soft folksy vocals, a catchy tune and adult guitars. One of the most fun tracks on the album is the Bowie-esque “let’s dance on the moon.” It is very electronic inspired, perfect for mothers’ ears, raised in the 80s and the lyrics are amusing for the children and, admittedly, the adults as well. The cute robot noises will also have the youngsters enraptured, and particularly winning is the penultimate line of the song, “one step for kids, one giant step for kid-kind.”

Released on the 6th of September 2010, the delightful album is well worth the purchase particularly if you a music-snob-come-parent who has been driven to distraction by the incessantly cheerful children’s CDs your kids to which your kids have taken a liking. On the other hand, kids or no kids, this album is an enchanting listen.

Claire Kane

The Crayonettes - Playing Out, Songs for Children and Robots by One Little Indian Records

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