Springtime Carnivore - Springtime Carnivore - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Springtime Carnivore - Springtime Carnivore

by Warwick Stubbs Rating:8.5 Release Date:2014-11-04

Sixties reverb is all over this album, along with an obvious nod towards everything else that was good about early-60s pop – up-tempo beats, bright, flowing harmonies, and lilting female vocals. While it could be classed as sunshine pop, it resembles more closely the musical styling of psychedelia, albeit completely void of any drug-infused influences such as wah-wah or chorus pedals (unless they’re heavily buried in the mix somewhere).

The influence of a number of legendary vocalists can be detected, but most prominently come across as a blend rather than an outright copy. On songs like ‘Collectors’ and ‘Name on a Matchbook’, singer Greta Morgan never attempts to emulate these greats, but sings lines like “I’ve got your name on a matchbook / I leave your face in the past” with her own relaxed but distinctive tones over a very indie sounding motown section. With a non-intrusive whistle on the chorus hook, this third track is one of the strongest songs on the record.

‘Sun Went Black’ charges through the door with full force, deserving to challenge the popularity of anything by Lana Del Rey, whose similar fusion of retro-pop with contemporary production catapulted her into stardom. Springtime Carnivore is less reliant on studio tricks though, opting for a far more organic sound and a stronger sense of rhythm which would make anybody dance to the line “Living without you is no life at all”.

‘Foxtrot Freak (Something in the Atmosphere)’ signals a relaxed groove with the opening line “Smile, smile, shuffle, the pompom parade / We all danced backwards when the skies went all grey," taking us on a fun trip to the ‘Other Side of the Boundary’ where things seem to get a bit more complicated with strained emotions and, suitably, a drop out of instruments, leaving just an acoustic guitar on the right and a strumming electric on the left supporting the vocalist up in the middle as she sings: “Every time I ever tried walking to the edge, my tired heart would compromise and I would miss my chance / but I will run now.” On ‘Keep Confessing’ Morgan sings out “I already know your secrets” like she's belting out a late-80s rock ballad by Heart, while on ‘Last One to Know’, the beat making kick-drum and thin treble vocals hint at 90s alt-pop à la The Cardigans' 'Lovefool'.

The album soars when it’s up-tempo and all instruments join in on what feels like a celebration of the reasons for making music, but it occasionally drags a little towards the end as the tempi move closer to setting-sun moods. ‘Creature Feature’ tries to rectify that but never soars as beautifully as the first three hit tracks, and instead the album opts for a gentle goodbye with the solo keyboards of ‘Low Clouds’.

Springtime Carnivore is an album I like for its fullness, without ever feeling like there is an over indulgence of nostalgia, though nostalgic it is. Songs bathe in the glory of motown but with a strong sense of moving forward rather than backwards. Production is slightly below the more mainstream quality of Lana Del Rey, but still throws a punch when turned up. A strong début with catchy songs, appealing vocals, and an excellent sense of self.

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