Etiquette - Reminisce - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Etiquette - Reminisce

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:6.5 Release Date:2015-03-27

Smooth and mellow, like a warm cup of coffee on a rainy afternoon, Etiquette, comprising Holy Fuck member Graham Walsh and folk-rock singer Julie Fader, don't break any new ground with Reminisce, their debut effort, but they do a fine job staying inside the lines.

The album makes a strong statement of purpose with the opener, 'Pleasantries', a slow, gentle piece guided by Fader's airy vocals and long keyboard tones, marching along on a muted, bubbling beat, and punctuated by guitar and tinkling synths. It's followed by two more solid tracks, the dreamy yet focused 'Brown & Blue', which pushes forward like a boat bobbing across gently rolling seas, with a quicker synth melody keeping it on course, and the downbeat 'Attention Seeker', which treads its instruments through swamps of sorrow before trying fitfully to rise above during the choruses.

But for a band that seems to favor languid ruminations, Etiquette are at their best when they boost the speed, as with the irresistibly bumping bass, muscular synths, and four-on-the-floor beats of 'Twinkling Stars', with a melody that sounds just like its title, and the bouncy, sparkling fun of 'On and On', two songs in which the group's sound reaches its Hooverphonic-like pinnacle.

And unfortunately, after a while, lanquid becomes listless, especially when it's the dominant mode of the set. This is most noticeable on 'Promises' and 'Outside In', a pair of interminable songs full of slow melodies, invisible rhythms, endless pads, and uninspiring singing that contrast sharply the more upbeat songs preceding them, sounding more like Hooverphonic on valium. The former seems to be a bit off in both rhythmic structure and the individual notes picked, while the latter is a dreary piece that adds nothing new to what has come before it.

Having said that, the final track, 'Island', while following the trend of slow-burners, benefits from significantly more emotional impact, through a combination of the mournful lyrics and the bigger, more spacious feel of the instrumentation. The overall feeling is that of an album that will accompany sad, reflective times well, and which can withstand repeated listenings, but which will not compel them. Eventually, the coffee gets cold.

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