Strata Florida - Made of Stars - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Strata Florida - Made of Stars

by Jeff Penczak Rating:8.5 Release Date:2014-03-25

More than two decades since releasing the lone Swallow album on 4AD (Blow, 1992), Louise Trehy returns with her debut solo album, a lush collection of dreamy pop not unlike where that band left off 20 years ago with the Rough Trade EP Hush (1994).

'By the Way' struts out of the gate on the wings of Trehy’s still-glistening vocals, as breathy and beguiling as Liz Fraser’s, but in a slighty more recognisable tongue. ‘Au Natural’ is pure wah-wah heaven (think “How Soon is Now”) and the production here (and thoughout) is a full-throttle, Spectorish wall of sound pumped up to about 15. But then, a few overmodulated distortions never hurt anyone!

‘Hang On’ tosses in some electronic phasing effects, runs Trehy’s double-tracked voice through a Leslie speaker (at least it sounds that way) and comes out the other end like a headswirling lullaby for dreamers. By the time we reach ‘Run’, the modus operandi is clear: turn on the flanging on the guitars, pump up the wah-wah bar, and stand back and let Trehy tickle our fancies with her whispered, pining vocals – sometimes backwards, occasionally kittenish, and always enchanting. Although possibly unintentional, ‘Sleeper’ features a rather spot-on impression of pin-up star Louise Wener, vocalist from Swallow’s contemporary contenders for your Britpop coin, while ‘Monster’ won’t scare anyone, but will wrap you in a fuzzy marshmallow overcoat which the title cut will only tighten around your psychedelic hot spots. 

The band name appears to be an Anglicised rendition of the Welsh Abbey of Ystrad Fflur (roughly translated as 'Valley of Flowers') in Pontrhydfendigaid (Trehy lists Wales as her home on her Soundcloud page), and I would certainly love to visit those hallowed walls and spread a little floral love in my path as I wandered through the monastery with Made of Stars pouring out of my Walkman. It’s as close to liturgical pop music as I’ve heard for a while, and something I’ll return to often in the coming warmer months.

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