Saturday 3 December 2016

Music: Violet Cries by Esben and The Witch **

(Matador)

Published 28/01/2011 | 05:00

Like The Go! Team this lot also hail from Brighton. But there the similarity ends. Hyped relentlessly as the ones to watch in 2011, they have much to live up to. Which is why the BBC's Sound Of poll and all its lookalikes often end up doing more harm than good for fledgling musicians who find they can't possibly match the high expectations that have been set by them.

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Taken on its own merits, this debut album offers an intriguing brand of gloomy, atmospheric music quite out of kilter with prevailing trends. It's been labelled elsewhere as "goth", but such a moniker is lazy and incorrect. Instead, the music is weighty, portentous and, really, quite pretentious -- right down to the FM-unfriendly song titles (Euminides, Chorea).

That the trio are keen to forge a different path is to be applauded, and when they hit their stride, the results are impressive. Warpath -- probably the album's most commercial moment -- is arrestingly forboding. Marching Song offers a moment for the percussionist to shine. And Euminides builds into an epic tour-de-force.

Too often, though, there's a stifling self-importance that makes Violet Cries a remarkably turgid listen (just try to get through Swans without yawning) and while one senses that Rachel Davies has PJ Harvey and Siouxsie Sioux in her sights, she's treading water for now.

Burn it: Warpath

Day & Night

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