‘Hermits On Holiday’
Trying to work out what to expect from this collaborative project wasn’t easy. Comprising Welsh alt-pop-rock songstress Cate Le Bon (whose exceptional albums CYRK and CYRK II remain amongst our most favourite of the last three years, and whose subtly dark, somewhat opium-inflected vocal style calls into mind Nico), and San Franciscan Tim Presley, AKA White Fence, to say it’s a hands across the water moment would be an understatement. And not just because the breadth of the North America landmass also stands between each’s formative homes.
In many ways then this is all about juxtaposition. Spilt The Beans , which sees Le Bon take over lyrical duties, is as light as it is oppressive, a cacophonous track that veers between distorted guitar solos, freeform piano and drum bashing, and that hypnotic voice. Meanwhile, preceding number, She Walks So Fast , seems to be more concerned with re-thinking a kind of Americana blueprint, as twangy six strings and head nodding, dare-it-be-said, Route 66 driving rhythms intersperse with staccato inflections, and are coupled to Presley’s timeless approach to songform. Which, we might add, sounds more British garage punk than it does U.S.
Geographical traits aside, the package continues in this vein, and that’s by no means a bad thing at all. At the first listen some of what's here is perhaps a little less immediately infectious as, say, Le Bon’s classic What Is Worse (featured on CYRK II ), but then spend some time with tunes like the gritty, grisly and (after a minute or so of warm up) slyly intoxicating Tim Do I Like That Dog and you begin to realise that what’s here is as much about concepts and moods as it is accessibility, running the gamut from experimentalism to avant-pop cuteness ( Cannon Mouth ) with exceptional skill. And, perhaps more importantly, razor sharp wit. Highly recommended stuff.
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