Elephant - Sky Swimming

by Jeff Penczak Rating:8 Release Date:2014-04-28

British duo Amelia Rivas and Christian Pinchbeck meet at a house party, fall in love, record an album, and then break up. This is the result and it’s as lushly romantic and melancholic as one might expect under the circumstances. Lucky for us, they didn’t go all gushy or turn it into a vitriolic musical diatribe swearing off love, romance and the whole damn thing…

‘Assembly’ opens with a sweet organ intro which morphs encouragingly into a snappy little dance riff behind Rivas’ alluring vocals. Toss in a neat Theremin-like break and things are off to a promising start. ‘Skyscraper’ keeps things moving with a jaunty waltz across the dance-floor, while the seemingly autobiographical title track and ‘Allured’ explain all that sticky stuff we spoke about earlier, all wrapped up in girl-group accoutrements, ethereal Cocteau-sy vocals, and a nod in Saint Etienne’s musical direction (which is also readily apparent in Rivas’ heartbreaking harmonies on ‘TV Dinner’). Alluring, indeed.

By now you’ve got a pretty good idea what to expect. There’s a little bit 60s gals a la Jackie, Sandi, Cilla, Billie; some upbeat Bananarama dance tunes; and a sprinkling of fuzzy pop from the likes of The School, The Primitives, Veronica Falls, and The Magic Theatre. Rivas’ vocals draw you in and Pinchbeck’s multi-instrumental backing keeps you riveted. While I’m sure it’s purely a coincidence, fans of Spain’s premiere pop label Elefant will find much to smile about herein.

My only nitpick is the production, which is a bit overaggressive, with too many moments pushed into the red, resulting in a distorted, scratchy backdrop - definitely a drawback with such an exquisite collection of tracks as these. 

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