Promise & The Monster - Feed the Fire

by Jeff Penczak Rating:7 Release Date:2016-01-22

Sweet dish songstress Billie Lindahl is the heart-throb behind Promise & the Monster, her third release under that moniker. Late-night, sultry vocals purr over dreamy, cascading instrumentation, like a warm molasses shower. The title track opens the album with majestic, tinkling instrumental embellishments, as Lindahl’s voice forms a smoky haze hanging in the air.

Multi-instrumentalist Lindahl brings the erhu to the fore on ‘Hunter'; this Chinese violin sounds like a weeping theremin serpentining around her Eastern-inflected vocal, not unlike Yoko or famed Chinese pop legend Wong Fei. Lindahl’s little-girl vocals are at the heart of ‘Time of the Season’ (not a Zombies Cover), a bouncy dance tune that will surely appeal to Bjork’s legion of fans.

     ‘Apartment Song’ is an eerie, acoustic folk song, but by now Lindahl’s heliumesque vocals may grate on some listeners – the melodies are wonderful, but her tweeny vocals are a tad unsettling. She describes her intention as trying to create a listening party where you’d follow Lee Hazelwood with Nico’s late 80s music, but the results are not as brusquely gothic as that description entails.

     The wordless vocals of the luxurious ‘Julingvallen’ remind me of the dizzying highs one experiences listening to Edda Dell’Orso singing on a Morricone soundtrack, and I also enjoyed the Western twang on the clip-clopping ‘Hammering the Nails’, which has a dreamy vibe to recommend it; imagine Raveonettes covering The Handsome Family’s theme to True Detective, ‘Far From Any Road.’ ‘Machines’ picks up where ‘Hammering the Nails’ left off and desperately belongs in a Quentin Tarantino film.

     Overall, an enjoyable and diverse listening experience. Its occasionally dark ambience is offset by Lindahl’s Betty Boop vocals that may offput some, but contribute to the album’s unique character.

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