I tend to not write about the stuff I don’t enjoy – stick by the adage of “if you haven’t got a good word to say” etc. I’m looped into the Rough Trade album of the month thing though and the completist in me needs to keep up the sequence.
So here’s the November 2018 selection. Anyone that has read my recent end of year Rough Trade ranking post may recall that this came twelfth and last. A few weeks on and my view hasn’t changed. This isn’t like the Idles album where I think my lack of enjoyment was possibly more about me and my current circumstances. I just don’t think the audiobooks album is very good. And the frustrating aspect is that you can see the potential that lies within, buried beneath some wilful self indulgence.
Let’s get the introductions out of the way first. audiobooks (note my avoidance of capitalisation at the start of the sentence – they can’t accuse me of not trying) are Welsh recording engineer and musician David Wrench and Goldsmiths art student and model Evangeline Ling. They’re a striking duo who recorded the album as an act of improvisation, with many of the lyrics done as first takes. And it shows.
The arrangements are electronic with both taking their turn at vocals. Ling’s deadpan enunciated English vocals bring to mind the great Black Box Recorder’s Sarah Nixey. Opener Mother Hen doesn’t grab me but Hot Salt has a little bit more about it, a melody redolent of Dare-era Human League, with a direct homage to Don’t Want You Me (“that much is true”) with Wrench playing Phil to Ling’s Suzanne and Joanne.
It Get To Be So Swansea isn’t without charm, a gentler ballad with Ling’s vocals processed and Friends In Bubblebath is what I believe is called a bit of a banger. The improvisational nature then starts to show through a little more, the quality control starts dipping and I start disengaging. Womanly Blood is gothic, the sort of thing that the Knife do but with a less appealing arrangement, Grandma Jimmy is a spoken word piece over a dubby bassline and Dance Your Life Away is, well, shrieky. I’m afraid they’ve lost me. It just isn’t doing anything for me and the longer the album goes on, the more irritated I become.
The hit rate with Rough Trade Albums of the Month is normally pretty decent. This is one of the few real clunkers for me, up (or rather down there) with Hinds and Golden Teacher. There’s potential there but this feels like a decent EP, not a fully fledged album.
Let’s just draw a line under it.