Monday, August 31, 2009

Westmoreland Corker

Thoughts turn to my favoured long playing records of 2009 and a brace of splendid recent beauties that hail, remarkably, from the shores of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. American recordings have come to dominate my turntables an’ devices so I’m chuffed to bits for the two acts I’m about to laud. Well done.

Wild Beasts hail from Kendal within the northern landscapes. They are neither beasts nor wild (I hope) but they do produce shimmering pop perfection that sends shivers down spines. Their recording is named Two Dancers. This is self-consciously pompous music (no bad thing), fusing enigmatic and swaggering fancy-compositions with the electrifying falsetto of no-shrinking-violet lead vocalist Hayden Thorpe. The closest comparison to Thorpe’s vocal antics that I can proffer is the high-pitched wonderment of the late, great Billy Mackenzie o’ The Associates; plenty of the glamour, ambition and insouciance of these Wild Beast songs reflect merrily the work of that fine Scottish combo of yore. These are songs to shoegaze to, songs to sway to, songs to smile at and with. It’s a splendidly unusual album. Presently I’m enjoying every second.

Slightly more traditional aural fare comes from a group who wowed me at the Green Man Festival and, indeed, the long player that I lovingly spin so often was purchased at said event. The Leisure Society’s The Sleeper is a sweeping and elegiac, er, sweep of acoustic elegance aided and abetted by sensuous string sensations and a wee bit of flute action. Soaring melodies and splendid orchestrations dominate these slightly bucolic and autumnal tracks that one could lazily deem ‘chamber pop’. This is simply a very pretty album packed with gorgeous and rather literate songs. I recommend.

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