Red Enhanced, Import
Guillemots - Red - Cd
It can be difficult to know how to condition yourself as a Guillemots fan. First there was Through the Windowpane, a great English pop record full of classy melodrama and widescreen elation, then there were the wilfully eccentric live shows, known to descend into mind-boggling bouts of freeform jazz bombast. And now there is Red, yet another altogether different dragon. You can talk about forcing a square where a circle should be, but this is more like teasing a dodecahedron through a drinking straw. And yet with slick feline agility they somehow wriggle through with little resistance. To get a measure of the differences, penultimate track "Don't Look Down" is one of a few that holds a torch for the first record, leading in with the keyboard twinkles and filmic slow pace, but implodes midway like a fully-laden milk float combusting, and comes out the other side like the Annie cast on helium set to a drum 'n' bass beat. Amazingly, it's as palatable as ever. But that's just for starters. "Kriss Kross" is the hitherto undiscovered melding point between 2Unlimited (of brief 90s techno infamy) and The New Radicals' chiming pop, "Big Dog" is bright lights arena R&B, robotic seduction with a Jacko scream at its heart, "Get over It" is glittery, steroid pumped modern glam and "Last Kiss" is Tubular Bells with distorted bass funnelled into a rave anthem. The whole album's a curveball, but the quality of the songs is undimming and maybe we just got a little closer to discovering what Guillemots quintessentially are. Or maybe not. --James Berry
Unfortunately, lead off single "Get over it", and opening cut "Kriss kross", both stomping glam-rock songs, while not bad are not quite as melodic as songs from their debut. Fortunately, the R&B-ish "Big dog" (with heavy synths) is very good.
"Red" is more upbeat than their debut with the fuzzy stomping "Last kiss" and the brilliant Disco-inflected "Cockateels" (with lush and dreamy sound effects) keeping the tempo raised. "Clarion" starts off as a gentle finger snapping ditty, with a buzzing riff and stomping beats coming in miidway, while the lovely "Standing on the last star" finds Fyfe Dangerfield singing in a high pitch in parts and singing kooky lyrics like "Somebody left the taps on in the sky" (lovely dreamy harmonies).
Then we get their epic ballads; the acoustic "Falling out of reach" (with Gospel-style backing vocals), the harmonica/piano laced, Jazzy "Words", the superb "Don't look down" (with droning synths, lovely keyboard flourishes, dreamy harmonies, and a surprisingly crashing choir-like bridge after which it takes on a sort of drum & bass rhythm), and the lush "Take me home" (with skeletal beats, sombre organs/strings, and some wailing by Dangerfield) closing the album.
While there isn't another "Trains to Brazil" or (my favourite) "Sao Paolo" here, Guillemots still manage to produce beautiful songs, unlike much of what is out there at the moment.