Rose Elinor Dougall - Stellular

by Steve Reynolds Rating:7 Release Date:2017-01-27

Anyone remember The Pipettes?  Yep, well they made some of the cutest indie pop female style back in the mid noughties and released a hugely infectious debut in ‘We Are The Pipettes’.  Rose Elinor Dougall used to be in said band and having left the band in 2008 has carved out quite a colourful career including her own solo bow in 2010.  Since then she’s performed with Mark Ronson and finally settled on releasing this her second album called ‘Stellular’.

What we’re party to her are 12 breezy uplifting tracks (don’t say twee, fucking hate that term) very much in the vein of Camera Obscura vocally with a brassy, bold production adding a certain edge of glamour pop.  An example being the gleaming sheen of ‘All At Once’.  A funked-up glitterati with Rose dropping from her distinct vocal to a shuddering whisper.  It's shameless pop music but with a naggingly invigorating warmth.

The confidence is something that is in bucket loads here and when you take in the minimalist indie guitar fare that is opener ‘Colour Of Water’, you’d be thinking that the album’s successive songs might follow a safe and comfortable route.  The album is full of simple colour rhythms flowing between electronic and real time drums, which probably explains why the album is produced and arranged by Oli Bayston, AKA producer Boxed In.  ‘Strange Warnings’ is redolent of her former incarnation and her bright direct vocal oozes brilliantly amongst a basket of soaring synths, metronomic drums and bouncing beats. ‘Closer’ beats a jaunty simmering beat continuing a theme of funk laden percussion and spikey guitar riffs.  Also what’s not to like about the added plethora of handclaps eh? Perfect.

The glass half full arrangements keep on pulsating when ‘Take Yourself With You’ hits the tracks.  Slightly more mid-paced but still hitting a positive note with Rose’s beautiful vocal that keeps on giving and giving without showing any signs of letting up.  Rose sings “Lately I’ve noticed something heavy on your heart….whenever I try to cross with your eyeline, it’s becoming much harder to find the focus of your gaze” on ‘Answer Me’ which is instigated by a stellar piano opener and quickly joined by dreamboat rhythms and haunting keys.

‘Dive Feat Boxed In’ possesses all of the latter’s electronic simplicity and the driving patterns mirror Rose’s buoyant and trigger happy vocal delivery, it’s sugar coated to within an inch of sourness but somehow remains hugely listenable.

‘Stellular’ represents the football commentators classic pun: “This is a game of two halves” as it is split between the back end electronic fed arrangements against the preceding guitar heavy leanings and even when she melds the two on ‘Poison Ivy’ the continuity doesn’t have any flaws amongst all the nooks and crannies.

When closer ‘Wanderer’ opens with a funereal simple piano beginning even that doesn’t tarnish the power of Dougall’s sweetened summer vocal.  She has a clever knack of turning from shade into light without much of an effort. 

On ‘Stellular’ nothing seems forced, more visceral, clean and clinical.  Rose has made an album that represents a hot streak of writing and accompanied by her idiosyncratic partners has made a blooming good fist of things here. The elongated hiatus was definitely worth the wait.

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