|All Artists: Real Tuesday Weld|
Title: London Book of the Dead
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Release Date: 8/26/2008
Album Type: Import
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop
Style: Adult Alternative
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
|Real Tuesday Weld|
London Book of the Dead
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop
See the world the way dreamers do...
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 08/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Real Tuesday Weld aka the Clerkenwell Kid aka Stephen Coates has always been quirky. And "The London Book of The Dead" reaches a new apex of oddness for this British artist, who happily splashes the album with Tin-Pan-Alley electro-jazz weirdness, mingled in with misty ballads and colourful vintage pop.
A church bell. A gentle guitar melody tinged with bells. "I was born." More guity. "And not very much was said about it." With that opening, Coates slips into a melancholy little ballad that sounds like Sufjan Stevens underwater: "Life is good/when you're fearing love/life is good/when you're filled with blood" through bubbles and ripples.
Things get more uptempo with "The Decline and Fall of the Clerkenwell Kid," a sprightly pop tune full of banjo, sax and piano. And they continue along those lines with some serious fusion music, blending the new and old -- we get experimental and electronica, woven into the edges of vintage pop'n'jazz with a Tin Pan Alley sound. It sounds like it was hijacked from an antique radio.
And there are some songs that don't really fit into the Real Tuesday Weld's usual sound -- pale, ethereal ambient ballads, bittersweet violin melodies, and the gloriously tight "Ruth, Roses and Revolvers," which sounds like a quirky noir theme.
If "The Return of the Clerkenwell Kid" was a a bright, sunnier return from devil jazz, then "The London Book of the Dead" matches its melancholy title. Wickedly sharp lyrics ("... the cheapest thrills/they mean more to me now/than you do"), and a feeling of wistful beauty fill the songs, but Coates never quite loses his whimsical edge.
The music is a beautiful cacophony shaped into sprightly jazz-pop -- saxophone, harmonica, tambourine, guitar, flute, plinky and/or rippling piano, aching violin and jazzy drums all make the core of the songs come alive, heavily wrapped in electronic swooshes and squiggles. And then there are stretches of pure, exquisite ambient electronica, flavoured with a female vocalist murmuring something unintelligible.
The last detail would be some pretty samples sprinkled on the edges -- church bells, birds, water bubbling. And Coates filters certain songs so that they sound like they're being piped from an ancient radio, giving you the feeling that you've accidentally tripped over some ancient, forgotten record.
With music that rich, it almost seems superfluous to mention that there's actual singing here. But Coates' voice is worth noting -- smooth, mellow and meditative, singing songs of unsure love, disease, drugs, death "wonderful lies" and some film mockery ("Let's make a film/it'll be such fun/all you need's a girl and gun, apparently...").
"The London Book of The Dead" is less macabre than it sounds, but that whimsical music is pricelessly melancholy. Like sipping champagne in a beautifully ruined city."