Recently heard two cds by artists whose past work I’ve enjoyed but who haven’t recorded in awhile.
Martin Rossiter was the lead singer of my favorite band of the 90’s Gene. When they broke up in the early 2000’s, my most immediate thought after what a shame was the hope for a Rossiter solo album. Well, it’s taken ten years but THE DEFENESTRATION OF ST MARTIN is a good enough record that the wait seems worthwhile.
Rossiter has chosen to present this collection of songs in stripped down voice and piano arrangements. This can be dangerous as the nakedness of the songs can expose the weakness of the material but the good news is the melodies and the lyrics are so strong they make you not notice the absence of drums or guitars. If anything, Rossiter’s voice, always a strength when he was in Gene, is even better now. He hangs on every word of each song, maximizing volume and tone for emotional power.
With songs like “I Want to Choose When I Sleep Alone” and “My Heart’s Designed for Pumping Blood” Rossiter is still mining Morrissey as an influence but musically he has taken an original, deeply satisfying turn whether motivated by artistic impulses or a limited recording budget. A very welcome return. I wrote about Gene before here http://rgdinmalaysia.xanga.com/676679399/i-now-know-why-i-was-born---celebrating-the-music-of-gene/
Electric Soft Parade’s first new album in six years IDIOTS also finds them going in a different direction. Their 2002 debut HOLES IN THE WALL was one of the best records of that year a successful merging of guitar based Brit pop and the less conventional Radiohead psychodrama style. Fabulous catchy songs were the key. Their second album THE AMERICAN ADVENTURE was a bit of a flop as they tried to rock out a bit and aimed for something less organic but also less thought out. The third NO NEED TO BE DOWNHEARTED was a partial return to form – good songs but extremely simple arrangements.
Now after a number of side projects the White brothers, the core of ESP, have returned with a record that sounds like a cross between The Smiths, Aztec Camera, The Housemartins, The Trashcan Sinatras, and newer bands like the Crookes. Shimmery Rickenbacker guitars lend the proceedings a pretty summery feel. Songs are sweet love songs or odes to other pleasant feelings with nice clear harmonies and well crafted wordplay. It sounds like a completely different band most of the time but this is probably their most accessible record so far.
I think “Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone” could be the single of the year.