posted on January 23, 2008 23:51
A review of the album 'No Shouts, No Calls' by Electrelane
Review Snapshot: The final offering from the superb quartet, departing to focus on their private lives while leaving us begging for more. Who said life was fair? Better put this one on repeat and start praying their "hiatus" is just a phase...
The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10
Within a week of what I will admit was constant rotation, I knew this album going to be a favourite of mine. It has the components I’m completely biased towards – an all-girl band, organ, pretty songs – precisely my bag. But that was only the beginning. Repeatedly pinned down by comparisons to the Organ, Sleater-Kinney, and a host of other female groups, Electrelane don’t have a definitive list of influences, and more to the point, a list of comparable bands. I’m a fan of good song writing, be it simple or otherwise, but it is the former that always leaves the more lasting impression, wondering just how it is a band does it. And I have wondered extensively how it is Electrelane does it.
“No Shouts, No Calls” is what became the originally Brighton-based band’s final album, announcing “indefinite hiatus” in November 2007 – a dark day in this reviewer’s diary. Released in May last year, it is their least experimental, displaying singer and keyboardist Verity Susman’s instinctive tendency towards memorable hooks and melodies, with just a bit more user-friendly song structure than seen in previous releases. Their previous album, Axes (2005), indulged the band’s desire for extended jam sessions and generous, yet melodic, instrumental rambles.
This time, however, you’ll find clear-cut single material in the form of “To the East”, though with the odd throwback to the constraint-defying compositions of yore, in “Five” and “Between the Wolf and the Dog”. Some melodies here are at first, a little better hidden than others, but a little bit of digging will go a long way. Before long, and after the more immediate effects of opener “The Greater Times” and ukulele-based “Cut and Run” start to fade, fragments of songs that once seemed intangible will be circulating in your mind all day long – and I speak from experience. Of course, no review could be complete without special mention to the unnaturally beautiful “In Berlin”, a personal favourite. Combining icy guitars with the warmest of choral arrangements of Verity’s voice, complete with strings, spot-on harmonies, and all the right chord changes, it’s like the soundtrack for a sad dream. “Saturday” and “Sea” are similarly flawless examples of how together the band create something more perfect than the sum of its parts. It’s an idea often applied to other collective masters of the song-writing craft, but the aesthetic and atmosphere Electrelane synergistically create, is definitely all their own, and the element I admire most.
Although they have gone their separate ways, and the live experience no longer possible for the unlucky late convert, there is a substantial back catalogue from their short life to keep any fellow enthusiasts enthralled. “Singles, B-sides and Live” (2005) is a must.
In short, Electrelane can do no wrong by me, and if you like all-girl bands, organs and pretty songs, listen to “No Shouts, No Calls” which has left this reviewer - and I can’t credit for this one - Electre-fied! Ahem.
To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.