Miniatures - Jessamines

by Jeff Penczak Rating:8 Release Date:2017-10-06

If influences alone sold records, this would be a chart topper by the time you read this review. That is, if your personal collection includes anything by Cocteau Twins, Lush, The Sundays, Slowdive…you get the picture. Saint Marie have developed into quite the nugaze cottage industry and most of their releases have been among my favourites from the last five years. Miniatures are a welcome addition to the family, as Jessamines mines that familiar but still goosepimple-inducing territory charted by their influences and expands upon it quite nicely throughout.

‘Try’ and ‘Standstill’ trickle across your ears like waterfalls of cascading sunshine, all shimmering guitars and helium vocals and sound like Cocteau outtakes (except Annemarie Duff sings in English, not Liz Fraser’s Coct-ese). While the title track is a little hesitant and takes a tad too long to get its bearings (before finally bursting into a maelstrom of antagonizing noise), ‘To The Lake’ wraps your head in swirling guitars and metronomic drums and can’t quite prevent itself from morphing into ‘Blind Dumb Deaf’. (Not a complaint.) The band do begin to develop their own personality on tracks like ‘What you Want’ and ‘Silent Tide’, and I’d like them to explore this less-derivative direction further.

     The dreamy ‘Form Into Soft And Wild’ is about as close to “truth in advertising” as a song title can get, but I must confess that, as pleasant a listening experience as this was, the tracks do tend to run together and become rather faceless the deeper you get into the album. And many are a minute or two too long.

     Still, if you close your eyes, your ‘80s/’90s shoegaze life may flash between your ears. In fact, if you’re too lazy to dig out those dusty Cocteau and Lush albums you buried in the basement, this will do just fine to recapture the glory! Which is fine by me, as some of my favourite bands (and music) featured during those tumultuous decades, including more than a few of the band’s acknowledged influences and “likes”. Miniatures have updated that era for the 21st century and brought back many fond memories, while creating a few of their own. A little more variety next time would help to raise them above the myriad nugazers jockeying for your hard earned dosh.

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