- 22 Feb 18
Long Awaited Debut From The Bray-Based Three-Piece Is R&B With A Loudly Beating Heart. Dragon Talk Deciphering: Pat Carty
It hasn't even been four years, but there's a lot of distance between 2014's rather rootsy The Widow Knows E.P. and this bright and shiny thing. It's really only those marvellous voices that would allow you to connect the two; the E.P. title track even featured a fiddle. No sign of any of that messing here. 2016's 'Letter To Willow' was a first step in this direction, with its burbling electronic undercurrent and its one eye on the dance floor. A track like 'Running', from that E.P. release, copped a serious feel of current R&B elements, moving their beautiful three-part harmonies a lot closer to Destiny's Child than, say, Dixie Chicks.
It's this ultra modern sensibility which informs this easy to love debut album. Caoimhe, Karen and Saoirse have mentioned the likes of Anderson .Paak, Solange, and even A Tribe Called Quest in interviews ahead of this release, and you can hear all those influences at work. 'Out Of My Hands', last year's much admired single, opens with a vocal collage that Björk would recognise before the beat comes in for a response to cynicism in the face of the band's admirable activism and campaign work. 'I Love You, Sadie', another one you may have already heard, is a comment on what Caoimhe has described as the restrictions of masculinity, but it can also just be taken as a fantastic pop song. Try in vain to get the "gotta let go" refrain out of your head, it's a hopeless endeavour. Current single 'Maybe It's My Nature' is even better again. Put Beyoncé's or Rhianna's name on it, and it would already be number one all over the place. When the chorus breaks through, it's like someone throwing open the curtains on a spring morning. It will place highly in those best of the year charts in twelve months time, or I'll eat whatever hat you like. And you would have to be dead for at least a week not to tap a toe to closer 'When I Can', complete with its Prince/D'Angelo-like guitar break.
The band recycle both 'Used' and 'Snow' from that first EP: the almost a cappella 'Used' gets an upgraded polish, and some extra bass, which better suits its fuck off message to some chancer who got caught in another's bed, and where there were once Crosby, Stills & Nash acoustics and even a flute, 'Snow' now sits on a bed of sound that Massive Attack would be pleased with. It is this song's transformation, now titled 'Snow II', which best indicates how far the band's sound has travelled.